Todd Minikus Wins $50,000 CSI2* Live Oak International Grand Prix

RELEASE: March 24, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Starting Gate Communications Inc

Todd Minikus and Quality Girl won the $50,000 CSI2* Live Oak International on Saturday, March 23, at the CSI2* Live Oak International in Ocala, FL.
(Mark Astrom)
Todd Minikus and Quality Girl won the $50,000 CSI2* Live Oak International on Saturday, March 23, at the CSI2* Live Oak International in Ocala, FL. (Mark Astrom)
Ocala, FL
– Todd Minikus of Wellington, FL, made it three for three, winning the $50,000 CSI2* Live Oak International Grand Prix on Saturday, March 23, in Ocala, FL.  The only equestrian event in North America to feature both world-class driving and show jumping, the Live Oak International takes place at Live Oak Plantation from March 20 to 24.

Having won both the $5,000 1.30m Waldron Wealth Management Power &Speed competition and the $10,000 E2 Show Jumpers Welcome Stake on Friday, Minikus returned to the John Deere Arena on Saturday to win the $50,000 CSI2* Live Oak International Grand Prix.

A total of 31 entries attempted the track set by two-time Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela with seven jumping clear to add their names to the jump-off list.  In a thrilling and truly international finale, Minikus and Quality Girl set the pace by blazing to a clear round in a time of 39.47 seconds.  Andre Thieme of Germany gave it his best shot, leaving all of the rails intact and crossing the timers in 41.03 seconds, which would prove to be good enough for second place.  2004 Olympic Champion Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil was right behind him in time of 41.07 seconds riding G&C Lagran to take third.

Callan Solem of the United States also jumped double clear in 43.76 seconds for fourth place with VDL Wizard while Sharn Wordley scored a top five finish for New Zealand with a clear jump-off performance in 44.21 seconds with Derly Chin de Muze.

New York’s Brianne Goutal had the fastest time of the jump-off, 39.45 seconds, but a heartbreaking rail at the final fence would leave her sixth in the final line-up with Onira.  Angel Karolyi representing Venezuela rounded out the jump-off contenders with a four fault performance in 43.91 seconds with Indiana 127, owned by Hollow Creek Farm.

In the end, it was Minikus who stood in the winner’s circle yet again with Quality Girl, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Chris Brems of Belgium.
“Being second in the order and with Rodrigo and Brianne behind you, you can approach it two ways,” said Minikus of his jump-off strategy.  “You can try to shut the door right from the beginning, or go clear conservatively and hope they make mistakes.  Quality Girl won the speed yesterday, so I decided to go for it, but I did chicken out down the last line and did six strides instead of the five they were planning to do.

“It’s not my first day at the rodeo,” he concluded with a wink, before adding, “In fact, I’m probably the oldest one in the class!”
After winning all three of show jumping competitions held so far, it is no surprise that Minikus sits atop the leaderboard for the $10,000 Leading Rider bonus, presented by G&C Farm, with one competition remaining.  Jerry Parks Insurance Group will also be recognizing the Leading Junior Rider and the Leading Amateur Rider.  All will be decided in Sunday’s $33,000 CSI2* Hollow Creek Farm Winning Round at 2:30 p.m.

“I’d like to thank the entire family at Live Oak for the wonderful production they do here,” said Minikus, who is competing at Live Oak for the first time.  “It has been a great weekend here at Live Oak.  The footing held up nicely for everyone; you could turn well and go fast on it, so that was great.  I love Live Oak!”

The Live Oak International is unique in that it is the only event in North America to feature both international show jumping and driving events.  As the driving marathon phase was held in the morning before the start of show jumping competition, Minikus was able to join the approximately 5,000 spectators that turned out for a great day of world-class equestrian sport.

“When I was a kid, the shows I went to always had saddlebreds along with the hunter jumpers, and I like it when there is one than one discipline at the show; I think it makes it fun for everybody,” said Minikus, 50.  “I enjoy the other disciplines.  I rode on the back of a carriage one time and that was enough to scare the daylights out of me!  I appreciate what they are doing, and I can watch anything when the people are skilled at it.  On the marathon today, there was some speed there and some excellent driving, so that was fun.”

Local favorite Chester C. Weber of Ocala, FL, did not disappoint his fans, with loud cheering resonating throughout the showgrounds as the two-time World Championship individual silver medalist negotiated the seven hazards conceptualized by course designer Hartmut Kaufmann of Germany.  Having set a new world record with his score of 37.22 in test number 11 in Thursday’s opening dressage phase, Weber continues to lead the FEI Horse Four-in-Hand Team division with a combined score of 127.42 penalty points.

Paul Maye of the United States took over the lead in the FEI Single Pony division with a score of 112.48 penalty points while Wendy O’Brien held on to top spot in the FEI Pair Pony division with 112.04.  Allison Stroud stayed atop the FEI Pony Team division with a combined total of 142.40.

Leslie Berndl continues to lead the FEI Single Horse division with 111.95 penalty points while Rae Fischer moved into first place in the FEI Pair Horse division standings with a two-phase total of 126.67 penalty points.

Offering the highest amount of prize money of any driving event in North America, Live Oak International is also hosting the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) National Championship for Pairs.  Zenon Gal is one phase closer to claiming the title, having posted a two-phase total of 124.87 penalty points following marathon.

Bettina Scherer held onto her lead in the Intermediate Single Pony division with 111.55 while Boots Wright is still out in front in the Intermediate Pair Pony division with 111.26.  Robin Groves moved into the lead in the Intermediate Single Horse division, which attracted a total of 12 entries.
The final day of competition begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday with the third and final cones phase for driving competitors.  Following the driving competition, the $33,000 CSI2* Hollow Creek Farm Winning Round will begin at 2:30 p.m.

While show jumping is being offered for the second year, Live Oak International has hosted an annual driving competition for more than 20 years.  Held at Live Oak Plantation, the private 4,000-acre farm of the Weber family, the Live Oak International is produced by nine-time winner of the USEF Four In Hand Driving Championship Chester C. Weber of Ocala, FL, and his sister, Juliet W. Reid, who led the Washington International Horse Show as President of the Board for the past four years.

$50,000 CSI2* Live Oak International Grand Prix – Saturday, March 23, 2013
               Rider                                Country                       Horse                         Faults            Time
1.            Todd Minikus                   United States              Quality Girl                   0:0            39.47
2.            Andre Thieme                 Germany           Voigtsdorfs Quonschobob      0:0            41.03
3.            Rodrigo Pessoa              Brazil                          G&C Lagran                  0:0            41.07
4.            Callan Solem                  United States            VDL Wizard                     0:0            43.76
5.            Sharn Wordley                New Zealand            Derly Chin de Muze         0:0            44.21
6.            Brianne Goutal               United States            Onira                                0:4            39.45
7.            Angel Karolyi                 Venezuela                 Indiana 127                      0:4            43.91
8.            Marilyn Little                  United States            Venus                               4
9.            Mark Bluman                 Colombia                    G&C Blue                       4
10.            Schuyler Riley              United States            Waterloo                         4
11.            Leslie Howard              United States            Utah                                4
12.            Jonathan McCrea          United States            Colorado                       4