Mill Spring, North Carolina, USA – October 28, 2021 – The 2021 Washington International Horse Show continued on Thursday, October 28, with the start of jumper competition along with junior hunters. Taking the wins in the opening international jumper classes were McLain Ward (USA) on Catoki in the $36,600 International Jumper Accumulator class, and Todd Minikus (USA) on Amex Z in the $72,900 Welcome Stake.
Todd Minikus (USA), last year’s winner of the WIHS President’s Cup Grand Prix presented by MARS Equestrian™, returned to WIHS with a vengeance but under slightly different circumstances. This year, he entered Tryon Stadium with Amex Z for the $72,900 Welcome Stake having had nearly a month off due to an injury.
“I had a horse rear and fall on me, and I haven’t ridden in almost four weeks,” shared Minikus, of Lake Worth, Florida. “The day before yesterday was the first time I’ve ridden [since the injury]. The horse came completely over on top of me and smashed my pelvis but I’m very fortunate nothing broke.
“I have to take my hat off to Brooke Rainey and Danny Balzani who take care of Amex Z and Jonathan Williams and Riley Delbecq who rode her the past month while I limped around,” he continued. “They did an awesome job of having her ready for me to ride.”
Minikus, who is known for going for broke in the jump off, did just that. In the end, Minikus and the 12-year-old Zangersheide mare by Andiamo Z owned by Bit by Bit Group bested a field of 41 horse and rider combinations. The first round produced 17 clear efforts, but with three riders electing to withdraw, 14 returned for the jump off. Minikus (USA) and Amex Z crossed the timers in lightning speed in 29.68 seconds.
“Well, usually my plan is always to go for it in the jump off,” laughed Minikus, who noted that once he felt good in the schooling ring and could tell Amex Z was ready, he knew he could step on the gas.
As he sped around the short course, he felt his horse was right on the money. “Amex Z really jumped awesome, and in the jump off she got down the six [stride line] so easy,” he explained. “I could tell when I turned, I was inside of everyone’s footprints going to the combination. I waited, waited, waited until the last minute to say ‘whoa’ in front of the combination and she really settled to jump A [of the combination] and I thought, ‘Golly, she’s on the game.’”
Though Minikus says he is still concerned about how he will feel tomorrow, he’s looking ahead to Saturday’s grand prix. “She’ll have tomorrow off, and we’ll go back at it on Saturday,” he said. “I’m not scratching.”
For their win, Minikus was awarded The Ben O’Meara Memorial Challenge Trophy.
Second place went to Canada’s Hyde Moffatt (CAN) and Ariel Grange’s Donjo, the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by VDL Zirocco Blue. McLain Ward (USA) and Poden Farms’ Kasper van het Hellof, the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion by Emerald, took third.
Final Results – $72,900 Welcome Stake
1) Todd Minikus (USA) & Amex Z – 0 / 0 – 29.68
2) Hyde Moffatt (CAN) & Donjo – 0 / 0 – 31.95
3) McLain Ward (USA) & Kasper Van Het Hellehof – 0 / 0 – 32.16
Source: Press Release from Jump Media for The Washington International Horse Show
Photo: © Shawn McMillen Photography