Nineteen-year-old Katie Dinan (USA) and Grant Road Partners' Nougat Du Vallet earned an exciting victory in Saturday night's $50,000 Holiday and Horses FEI World Cup Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. American riders took top four honors in the eleven horse jump-off. Dinan beat Todd Minikus and Macoemba and Margie Engle and Royce, who finished second and third respectively.
More than 4,000 spectators were at PBIEC tonight to partake in an evening full of activities, including watching the FEI World Cup Qualifier and the drawings of charities for the 2013 FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge, as well as the Wellington Chamber of Commerce WinterFest sponsored by International Polo Club Palm Beach, The Wellness Experience, Equestrian Sport Productions/PBIEC and LED Source.
Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY, set the course for the 41 entries in Saturday night's class with eleven returning for the jump-off and four of those entries completing double clear rounds. "I thought it was a good course," Engle said. "They had a nice crowd. There were more clean than I thought there would be. When we walked it, I thought there would only be six or eight. I was surprised there were that many clean."
Todd Minikus and Macoemba were the first pair to jump double clear and set the pace in the jump-off at 45.55 seconds to eventually finish second. Saer Coulter (USA) and Copernicus Stables' Springtime were the next duo to jump clear over the short course and stopped the clock in 47.90 seconds to place fourth. Margie Engle and Royce finished in 46.42 seconds for third place. Katie Dinan and Nougat Du Vallet were last to go in the jump-off and raced through the finish in 44.67 seconds for the win.
Following the class, Dinan explained her strategy, which involved a little encouragement from trainer McLain Ward.
"I knew that there were quite a few in the jump-off, so my plan was just to go as fast as I could while staying composed and making sure that I didn't do anything stupidly trying to go fast and having a unnecessary rail down," Dinan stated.
She continued, "I knew that there were some good long approaches where I could really let my horse gallop and make up some time there. He is really good at covering distance quickly and then still letting me have rideability to the jumps. My trainer, McLain, told me that if I heard whistling after the first combination, I probably needed to go a little faster. I was luckily able to gallop pretty hard at the last vertical and he stayed careful and jumped it really well, so things ended up going my way tonight. I was really excited." "I think he does everything really well," Dinan smiled. "I just try to stay out of his way and not screw him up. Usually if I have a long approach to a tall vertical in the jump-off, I know that if I ride that correctly I can make up a lot of time because he can gallop really fast and then he will still balance up to the end and not lose his shape or get flat, so that is what I try to use to my advantage." Dinan has had a great year with Nougat Du Vallet, winning a grand prix during last year's FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival and going on to top placings in Spruce Meadows and Europe throughout the summer. "This show last year was the first time that I had ever done him in an FEI class and he was second in the FEI class on Friday that week," Dinan noted. "That was our first really good placing. That was really where I had figured out how to ride him and we were really optimistic about the year ahead, so to come back and then win the grand prix this year was really exciting. I am so lucky to have him and I feel blessed that we were able to find him and that he has been everything that we hoped he would be."
Dinan is currently a freshman at Harvard University and is figuring out how to juggle school and riding this year. "It has been a little busy. I feel like I am trying to be in two places at once, which is I guess is what I am trying to do," she laughed. "I haven't been able to ride even a quarter as much as I was riding last year. Sometimes I think I have to adjust my expectations a little bit. At the beginning of the week I am maybe not as sharp as I would have been two weeks before that, but luckily over the last year I have gotten to know 'Nou Nou' really well, so jumping on him after not riding as much has been okay so far. I am lucky because McLain and Craig Pollard, who runs our barn, keep him in perfect shape. I never worry about him; I just worry about me, so that is a good situation to be in. I am trying to do my school work and ride as best I can and not get too stressed out."
Dinan plans to show at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival during her school break in January this year. For tonight, she was excited with the win with Nouget du Vallet, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle. "I just want to thank my parents," she acknowledged. "They were able to come down today to watch the class with my little brother. It was nice that they were able to watch me win. I also want to thank everyone at our barn Staysail, because without them I wouldn't be anywhere, and McLain and his entire team. They have helped me so much for the last two years and I am really grateful."
Second place finisher Todd Minikus joked about getting beat by a youngster like Dinan, but was happy for her success. "Katie doesn't listen very well, because when she and I were standing by the in-gate I tried to explain to her that when we are in the jump-off we play 'old guy wins.' I don't think she took me serious enough," Minikus laughed. "I will have to talk to McLain about the lack of respect for her elders. But no, Katie has got a great horse and she does a really good job with that horse and congratulations to her."
Minikus and his nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Zeoliet won last week's grand prix at the SFHJA Charity show, but said that this was the biggest test his horse has seen. "I was just very proud of my young horse," Minikus said. "My horse is very inexperienced and he jumped outstanding tonight, not only just in the first round, but he jumped really well in the jump-off, which I had some concerns about. Katie is very excited, but maybe I am the happiest owner here. He did some grand prixs this summer, but this was for sure the biggest task that he has taken on."
Margie Engle won the class last year on her top mount Indigo, and had a third place finish on Royce this year. Engle is getting back into the groove with Royce after four months out of the saddle. "I was very happy with him. I haven't shown much since I hurt my ankle," Engle noted. "This is the first World Cup class I've done with him. He's got all the ability in the world. I just have to still get the rideability a little better in between the jumps, but the jump is amazing. He's got all the raw talent. He's probably one of the nicest horses I have ever sat on in terms of raw talent. I was really pleased with how he handled it."
Final Results: $50,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix
1. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/0/44.67
2. MACOEMBA : 2003 KWPN gelding by Zeoliet TODD MINIKUS (USA), Todd Minikus, Ltd: 0/0/45.55
3. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/0/46.42
4. SPRINGTIME: 1999 KWPN gelding by Indorado x Elmshorn SAER COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 0/0/47.90
5. WHISPER HE: 2003 KWPN gelding SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 0/4/41.60
6. QUICK STUDY: 1999 SFA gelding by Quick Star x What a Joy LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura Mateo: 0/4/43.37
7. BARONEZ: 2001 Warmblood mare by Heartbreaker x Unknown KIRSTEN COE (USA), Ilan Ferder & Lovsta Stuteri: 0/4/43.96
8. DIKTATOR VAN DE BOSLANDHOEVE: 2003 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Capital
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm: 0/4/44.81
9. ANY GIVEN SUNDAY: 2003 Oldenburg stallion by Indoctro x Condor DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Hays Investment Corp: 0/4/49.39
10. UNEX OMELLI: 1996 KWPN gelding Burggraaf x Equador TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Unex Competition Yard: 0/8/48.93
11. WATERLOO: 2003 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Ekstein SCHUYLER RILEY (USA), Michael Meller: 0/12/ 45.03
12 . PATRIOT: 2003 Holsteiner gelding by Colman x Sir Shostakov WILTON PORTER (USA), Sleepy P Ranch LLC: 1/85.65
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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