Todd Minikus and Quality Girl. (Photo © Sportfot)
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.
Week two of the Winter Equestrian Festival concludes on Sunday, January 24, at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and is sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance. Competition for Sunday includes the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Equine Couture/TuffRider, at 8 a.m. and the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Classic, now scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. in the International Arena following the Parade of Champions at 11:30 a.m.
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.”
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.”
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
Source: Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.