November 28, 2013--Equestrian Sport Productions' (ESP) 2013 Holiday & Horses competition began on Wednesday, November 27, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center with a win for Todd Minikus (USA) and Quality Girl in the $33,000 Nutrena Holiday & Horses Opener.
Holiday & Horses competition will continue through Sunday, December 1. Upcoming highlights include the $33,000 G&C Farm 1.45m FEI class on Friday, November 29; the $50,000 Holiday & Horses CSI 2*-W Grand Prix on Saturday, November 30 (5:30 p.m.); and the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby (12 p.m.) and $10,000 Open Stake 1.40m on Sunday, December 1.
A total of 46 entries showed in Wednesday's $33,000 Nutrena Holiday & Horses Opener jumping a course set by Anthony D'Ambrosio, of Red Hook, NY. Thirteen competitors were able to clear the first round course without fault, and ten of those were also clear through the short course. The fastest time of 34.23 seconds belonged to Todd Minikus and Quality Girl, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Dobrock, for the win.
Finishing second, Ronan McGuigan (IRL) and Capall Zidane stopped the clock in 35.37 seconds. Charlie Jacobs (USA) and CMJ Sporthorse LLC's Flaming Star finished third in 35.60 seconds. Lauren Hough (USA) and The Ohlala Group's Ohlala were fourth in 36.52 seconds, and Quentin Judge (USA) guided Double H Farm's HH Donnatella to fifth place honors in 37.18 seconds.
"It was a blistering fast jump-off and it kept getting faster and faster, which is always fun," Minikus detailed. "I'm not a big planner for the jump-offs, I kind of wing it, but I think the two rollbacks were the trick today. I got lucky that it came up where I could just keep continuing, so that was probably where I made the time."
Quality Girl showed throughout the indoor horse show circuit this fall and had some rest before competing in Wednesday's class. Minikus thought she felt fresh and ready to go coming back outdoors.
"She had a couple of weeks off and it didn't hurt her any," the rider noted. "It seemed like she stayed right in form from the National in Kentucky. She had a couple of funny classes in Harrisburg and Washington D.C., but in Kentucky she really was on the game, and then she was awesome today."
"Transitioning back outdoors seemed to be no problem," Minikus added. "She really went nice in the first round. She always goes well in the jump-off for some reason, but the first round she really jumped fresh, so that was good. She is sometimes quieter in the jump-off. The first round settles her a little bit and just knocks the edge off of her."
There was an impressive group of horses and riders in Wednesday's class to kick off the winter competition as the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival quickly approaches. As Minikus pointed out, Wellington draws many of the best in the sport, and the competition is never easy.
"It's welcome to Wellington," he laughed. "You might as well get used to it because that's the way it is. It is always a who's who. Nothing is ever going to come easy, so even at these pre-season shows, you have to come with your 'A' game. That's just the way it is here in Wellington."
Final Results: $33,000 Nutrena Holiday & Horses Opener
1. QUALITY GIRL: 2003 Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Dobrock
TODD MINIKUS (USA), Todd Minikus, Ltd: 0/0/34.23
2. CAPALL ZIDANE: 2004 KWPN gelding by Concorde x Baloubet du Rouet
RONAN MCGUIGAN (IRL), Ronan McGuigan: 0/0/35.37
3. FLAMING STAR: 1999 AES gelding by Fairman x Unknown
CHARLIE JACOBS (USA), CMJ Sporthorse LLC: 0/0/35.60
4. OHLALA: 2003 Swedish Warmblood mare by Orlando x Cardento
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), The Ohlala Group: 0/0/36.52
5. HH DONNATELLA: 2003 Belgian Warmblood mare by Toulon x Mr. Blue
QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 0/0/37.18
6. CARISSIMO: 2000 Holsteiner gelding by Calando I x Silvester
MOLLY ASHE (USA), Olivia Jack: 0/0/37.24
7. WOKLAHOMA: 2003 KWPN mare by Sheraton x Calvados
ROBERTO TERAN, JR. (COL), ARK Partners LLC: 0/0/37.56
8. RECONNAISSANCE: 2005 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Camaro M x Irco Mena
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura & Meredith Mateo: 0/0/38.11
9. ASLAN: 2000 Danish Warmblood gelding by Aston x Blue Hors Agent
LJUBOV KOCHETOVA (RUS), Ljubov Kochetova: 0/0/38.13
10. LA CENTA: 2002 Oldenburg mare by Cento x Silvio I
LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms, LLC: 0/0/40.94
11. URAGUAY: 2001 KWPN gelding by Nairobi x Colino
TODD MINIKUS (USA), Legacy Stables, LLC: 0/4/34.95
12. EVENING STAR: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Coriano x Lenz
HEATHER CARISTO WILLIAMS (USA), Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Caristo: 0/4/38.47