|Todd Minikus and Quality Girl Capture Back-to-Back Kentucky Spring Classic Wins with $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*|
|Written by Taylor Renner|
|Friday, 20 May 2016 12:42|
The second leg of the 2016 Hagyard Challenge Series, sponsored by the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, was held on Thursday evening in the Rolex Stadium as the day's highlight event of the Kentucky Spring Classic. Todd Minikus (USA) took the top spot in the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*, and second consecutive FEI win for the week, aboard Quality Girl, besting a starting field of 61 and gaining valuable points towards the Hagyard Leading Rider Bonus.
"She's been a winner her whole career and the one thing you know about her is that at any given moment she could be the winner," said Minikus. "She generally tries hard every day. She's a professional show horse and that's what I love about her."
The Hagyard Challenge Series consists of seven grand prix classes to be held during the 2016 show series at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the final event, a cash prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series as well as a $10,000 prize for the reserve champion.
Quality Girl, owned by the Quality Group, and Minikus were Wednesday's $35,000 Welcome Speed CSI3* champions and upheld their reputation for their consistent winning ways on Thursday.
Twenty horses and riders produced faultless efforts around the Olaf Petersen-designed first round course, advancing to the jump-off where only seven were able to finish double clear.
Andrew Ramsay (USA) and Stranger 30, owned by The Stranger Group, were third in the jump-off order-of-go, and were the early clear pathfinders of the shortened track, stopping the timers in 40.400 seconds.
Aaron Vale and Troy Glaus' Quidam's Good Luck jumped off four rounds later and laid down a blazing second round, catching Ramsay's time by one full second, in 39.000 seconds to earn the second place prize for the second week in a row. Ramsay and Stranger 30 went on to round out the top three of the class.
No one seemed able to come close to Vale's time, and it looked as if Vale would take the title, until 12 rounds later when the last jump-off contenders entered the ring — Minikus and Quality Girl. They achieved the unthinkable and caught Vale's impressively fast time by one full second, breaking the beam in 38.240 seconds.
"Aaron and I — we watched the first couple go together," said Minikus. "We were debating inside or around the gazebo, and we both thought that around was probably faster. Aaron looked quite fast as always but Quality Girl's an extremely fast horse. I think I came into the combination faster and that's where I probably nipped him.
"Aaron was fast so you had to nail it," continued Minikus. "If you didn't nail it you weren't going to catch him. So it worked out nice. I didn't really plan on going into the combination that fast but she did a good job of holding herself up over the back rail of the oxer and then slowing down for the vertical. That was a professional move she made at that combination."
"You know Todd's fast, and I watched Andrew go in the jump-off and he wasn't as fast as I've seen him ride, but I kind of got a decent judge of what the track was from watching him," said Vale. "In hindsight, if I'd have watched a few more go, there was maybe was an eight from one to two where we did nine. The vertical after the combination Todd caught really smooth. I just didn't. For me to leave one out there, it was a risk. It wasn't coming up good so I kind of had to fade and take one extra there just to make sure I jumped it clean. One down is tenth place so better off to put a stride in and be second than take it out and have one down."
Although Pablo Barrios won the first class of the series with ASD Farfala during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show on May 12, Vale claimed both second and third place with Quidam's Good Luck and Finou 4, taking the early lead in the 2016 Hagyard Challenge Series.
"I don't know if I've ever even been in the top ten of the series standings," said Vale. "Todd wasn't here last week so this will increase my lead. I didn't have a whole lot of Kentucky shows on my summer schedule actually, but after this I may have to reconsider a little bit. That bonus is attractive enough we might have to reschedule and come try and get back here. I meant to come back here in late August and September for the final show but we might have to add a date or two to our calendar. Maybe I can get out of the bridesmaid position on Saturday night. If not, hopefully I can be second instead of third."
Prior to Thursday's competition, Barios of Venezuela was holding the second place position in the standings, just 10 points behind Vale, and Victoria Colvin was ranked third after she went double clear with Austria 2 to earn fourth place honors.
At the end of the day, Minikus recognizes that his and Quality Girl's victories are nothing short of a team effort.
"I have to thank, not only Quality Girl, but the owners of Quality Girl as well as my sponsors Purina Mills, TheraPlate, ABI Equine, Charles Owen, Vita Flex, Draper Therapies, CWD, Veredus, Premier Equestrian, Neue Schule and Horseware Ireland," said Minikus.
Throughout the summer, the top riders from across the nation will gather to compete over challenging courses and vie for the winning title and $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus. Four more Hagyard Lexington Classic grand prix events will be held during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, the Kentucky Summer Classic, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show and the KHJA Horse Show. The series concludes with the $65,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic during the Kentucky National Horse Show. Following that exciting competition, the winner of the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus will be announced and presented with the cash prize by the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.
New this year to the Hagyard Challenge Series is the $200 Best Turned Out award, sponsored by Bob Mickler's. The award goes to a well-deserving groom following each grand prix. After Thursday's competition, Pedro Sanchez, groom to second place winners Quidam's Good Luck and Aaron Vale of Thinkslikeahorse, won the second Best Turned Out award of the series. Another new addition to the series is the Hagyard's Handsomest Hound contest, held at each grand prix and sponsored by MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets. This week's Hagyard's Handsomest Hound contest crowned two winners due to inclement weather during the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3* at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. The two winners were Tucker, owned by Jen Ronczkowski, and Macie, owned by Lynne Hewlett.
The Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is one of the oldest and largest equine veterinary practices in the world. Founded in 1876, the institute offers a staff with qualifications unparalleled by any single non-university veterinary group in the equine industry. Hagyard veterinarians have dedicated themselves to the health and well being of the horse.
The facility at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute offers 13 digital radiology systems, 1.5 Tesla Siemens MRI, nuclear scintigraphy, an on-site laboratory, an on-site pharmacy, full medical and surgical services, 24-hour emergency services and hyperbaric medicine. The practice has performed veterinary medicine for more than 137 years and is currently composed of over 50 experienced veterinarians, with 13 board certifications, in specialty areas of medicine, surgery and theriogenology. For more information on the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, please visit www.hagyard.com.
Several generous sponsors have helped make this exciting series event happen. These gracious supporters include title sponsor MWI Animal Health and presenting sponsor Zoetis as well as Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC, Hallway Feeds, Audi of Lexington, Pike & Preston, Sallee Horse Vans and Hagyard Pharmacy. Additional sponsors include Equine Therapy and FooteWorks.
The Kentucky Spring Classic, running through May 22, features a FEI CSI3* rating. On Saturday, May 21, riders will compete under the lights in the Rolex Stadium during the $130,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix. All three FEI classes held during the Kentucky Spring Classic count for the Longines Ranking List and the Saturday classes will also count for the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Ranking List. In addition, the featured national classes will be the $50,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix, which counts towards the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Ranking List, and the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, May 22, in the Rolex Stadium.
EQSportsNet will be streaming live webcasts of the $130,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3* during the Kentucky Spring Classic on Saturday, May 21. EQSportsNet Full Access subscribers can also watch all rounds of the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows series on demand at www.eqsports.net.
Results: $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*
1 1482 QUALITY GIRL TODD MINIKUS USA 77.09 38.24
2 511 QUIDAM'S GOOD LUCK AARON VALE USA 78.78 39.00
3 560 STRANGER 30 ANDREW RAMSAY USA 79.05 40.40
4 1029 CALIFA LS MARK BLUMAN COL 78.54 41.52
5 355 CAYA ALI WOLFF USA 77.76 42.34
6 696 ACE ALISON ROBITAILLE USA 81.91 42.51
7 77 BRINDIS BOGIBO ANDREW WELLES USA 80.80 43.25
8 1296 FAMOSO D IVE Z SHARN WORDLEY NZL 78.91 4 40.18
9 941 CYKLON 1083 SHANE SWEETNAM IRL 79.18 4 40.19
10 769 CATYPSO ERIC NAVET FRA 79.76 4 40.20
11 957 VENTURO 9 LORCAN GALLAGHER IRL 82.64 4 43.30
12 64 HITCHCOCK VD BROEKKANT ALISE OKEN USA 81.83 4 46.31