The first "Saturday Night Lights" grand prix competition of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival was an exciting one as fans who braved the chilly and blustery weather were treated to a fast jump-off and winning ride from Todd Minikus (USA) on the Quality Group's Quality Girl. They finished four seconds faster than second place finishers, Samuel Parot (CHI) on Atlantis. Richie Moloney (IRL) placed third with Carrabis Z.
Course designer Catsy Cruz set the track for the grand prix, which had 45 entries and 12 clear through to the jump-off. Emanuel Andrade (VEN) and Nokia de Brekka set the early leading pace with a clear round in 37.14 seconds for fifth place. Moloney and Carrabis Z, owned by Equinimity LLC, brought the winning time down to 36.57 seconds, but would settle for third. Margie Engle (USA) and Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek, and Gladewinds, slotted into fourth place with a time of 36.70 seconds. Parot made a bid for the win and had a brief time at the top of the standings when they finished in 36.25 seconds.
As the final competitors in the jump-off, Minikus and Quality Girl galloped to the first fence and never looked back. With incredible rollback turns and a speedy pace, they stopped the timers almost four seconds faster in 32.41 seconds for the win.
"I watched Richie go and I thought, 'That looks pretty impressive,' and then Samuel went and I thought, 'This looks too fast.' But when I went to the first jump, she took a hold of the bit and dragged me on down there. It felt great," Minikus said.
It was a gratifying win for Minikus, who had a severe groin injury in September, which put him on the sidelines for months. He has had a successful relationship with Quality Girl, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Dobrock.
"I just sat around for months," Minikus recalled. "Somehow I got myself back in shape and hopefully it will stay together for the rest of the circuit. We have a big summer coming up, and I have big plans. I hope that Babalou and Quality Girl have a good circuit here."
Todd Minikus and Quality Girl in their winning presentation with Donald C. Graves, Vice President Marshall & Sterling, Inc., Director Equisport Division, Missy Sullivan, Senior Account Executive, Lucas Porter of the Quality Group, and ringmaster Christian Craig.
He continued, "It's nice that Quality Girl came out with guns a blazin', so to speak. She jumped great last week and I screwed the jump-off up and made kind of a crappy turn, but tonight I rode her so she could win."
Minikus was quick to thank his team and added, "I'd like to thank the owners in Quality Group and all the sponsors - Purina, Charles Owen, VitaFlex - I can't do it without them. Shannon who takes care of Quality Girl has been doing a great job flatting her while I was hurt, so she gets a lot of credit."
Parot is coming off a streak of World Cup wins on the West Coast this past fall with Atlantis, a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo x Royal Bravour L. "My horse is very fast and careful," Parot described. "I had a very good summer with him. I tried (tonight), but Todd is very fast."
Moloney and Carrabis Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion by Cannabis Z x Grannusso, also recorded big victories in 2015. They won the CSI 4* grand prix at the Tryon International Equestrian Center and took the top placing at the American Gold Cup CSI 4*-W.
He noted, "I was very happy. My horse had a break for almost three months so it's nice that he came out like this. It's the first week back jumping bigger, and he was great."
Katherine Strauss Tops 64 in $10,000 Artisan Farms U25 Welcome Stake
The Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series got underway on Saturday with a win for Katherine Strauss in the $10,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Welcome Stake. Strauss, 17, and her own All In bested 64 entries in the one-round speed class, stopping the clock in 64.57 seconds.
Sima Morgello and Orientales jumped into second for Double S Farm, LLC in 66.14 seconds. Third was presented to Hayley Barnhill and Zephire in 69.48 seconds for Barnhill, LLC. Lucas Porter and Diamante Darco took fourth in 70.23 seconds for the Sleepy P Ranch, while Tina Di Landri capped the top five aboard Zelote VDL, owned by Highpoint Farm, LLC in 71.13 seconds.
Presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, the Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series (AFU25GPS) returns to the Winter Equestrian Festival for its sixth season this year. Throughout the circuit, the series offers a total of $170,000 in prize money while showcasing top young talent in show jumping sport. Open to competitors of all nationalities aged 25 and under, the AFU25GPS is sanctioned by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), giving many riders their first experience competing at the 1.45m level under FEI rules.
Strauss, a regular competitor in the Series at WEF, is currently approaching the end of her junior career with her sights set on grand prix competition. "This series is such a great way to bridge the gap between the junior jumpers and the grand prix level," she said. "I am really looking forward to competing in the U25 Series with All In for the rest of the circuit."
All In has been the ride of Strauss for two years, and she characterizes him as a scopey jumper with a ground-covering stride. "Today's course was built to my advantage. He is so fast across the ground and that helped us make up some time in this big ring," said Strauss.
Strauss admits that she and All In have developed a strong bond while competing in junior jumper and small grand prix classes together. "He always does everything I ask of him," she said. "He's the love of my life."
Final Results: $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI 2*
1 QUALITY GIRL: 2003 Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Dobrock TODD MINIKUS (USA), Quality Group: 0/0/32.41
2 ATLANTIS: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo x Dodana W SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 0/0/36.25
3 CARRABIS Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Canabis Z x Grannusso RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 0/0/36.57
4 INDIGO: 2000 KWPN gelding by Indoctro MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek & Gladewinds: 0/0/36.70
5 NOKIA DE BREKKA: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Quick Star SF x Apache d'Adriers EMANUEL ANDRADE (VEN), Emanuel Andrade: 0/0/37.14
6 UNTOUCHED: 2007 Westphalian stallion by Untouchable x Capitol I NICK SKELTON (GBR), Poden Farms: 0/0/37.66
7 CYNAR VA: 2007 Zangersheide gelding by Clarimo x Alcatraz JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/0/38.19
8 MARTHA LOUISE, 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare by Maloubet de Pleville x Virginia Wolf CONOR SWAIL, Ariel and Susan Grange: 0/4/33.43
9 ANDRETTI S: 2005 KWPN gelding by Corland x Animo LAURA KRAUT (USA), Stars & Stripes: 0/4/34.24
10 BREITLING LS: 2006 Dutch Warmblood stallion by Quintero x Accord II BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/4/35.83
11 BRIGHTON: 2006 KWPN gelding by Contendro II x Quick Star TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/4/37.54
12 BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/RET
Finals Results: $10,000 Artisan Farms U25 Welcome Stake
1 ALL IN: 2005 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Aachen x Indoctro KATHERINE STRAUSS (USA), Katherine Strauss, LLC: 0/64.57
2 ORIENTALES: 2002 Selle Francais mare by Rox de la Touche SIMA MORGELLO (USA), Double S Farm, LLC: 0/66.14
3 ZEPHIRE: 2004 Dutch Warmblood mare by Coriano x Animo HAYLEY BARNHILL (USA), Barnhill, LLC: 0/69.48
4 DIAMONTE DARCO: 2005 Great Britain Sport Horse by Unbelievable Darco LUCAS PORTER (USA), Sleepy P Ranch, LLC: 0/70.23
5 ZELOTE VDL: 2004 Dutch Warmblood stallion by Chin Chin x Libero H TINA DI LANDRI (USA), Highpoint Farm, LLC: 0/71.13
6 FLECU: 2004 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Hip Hop x Flamingo VIGGO BJORKLUND (SWE), Gyllebo Farm, LLC: 0/71.32
7 COLORLAND'S CHEYENNE: 2006 Hanoverian mare by Coupe de Couer x Landfriese II JENNY RANKIN (IRL), Carl Handley: 0/73.18
8 HAMLET: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Cicero x Carthago LUCY DESLAURIERS (USA), Lisa Delauriers: 0/73.67
9 LORO PIANA BALLYLECK ROYALE: ALMA BJORKLUND (SWE), Alma Bjorklund: 0/74.21
10 QUICK PETITE FOLIE: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by Calvaro Z x Thoas du Theillet THOMAS MCDERMOTT (AUS), Gut Einhaus, LLC: 0/75.15
11 CADENCE: 2001 gelding by Cardento x Irco Marco 662 JENNIFER GATES (USA), Jennifer Gates, LLC: 0/75.69
12 COOPER: 2004 Holsteiner gelding by Colman x Corrado I NICOLE WALKER (CAN), Nicole Walker: 0/75.90
Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions News // Picture © Sportfot
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