Mill Spring, NC – June 6, 2019 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Amex Z came out on top in the $72,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 4* at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), stopping the jump-off clock at 36.242 seconds to claim their second consecutive FEI victory. Aaron Vale (USA) and Finou 4, a 2006 Hanoverian gelding (Flashlight 16 x Concetto Famos) owned by Thinks Like A Horse and Donald E. Stewart, stopped the jump-off timers at 38.149 seconds to secure the pair a second place finish, while third place was awarded to Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Casper, a 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contender x Baloubet Du Rouet) owned by Sky Group, with a jump-off time of 38.902 seconds.
Course Designer Kelvin Bywater (GBR) had 46 entries test the course, with eight pairs returning for the jump-off round. Minikus and the 2009 Zangersheide mare (Andiamo Z x Landaris), owned by Bit By Bit Group, were proud to be representing Horseware on their saddle pad as the pair received the top honors, Minikus expressed.
“In the first round, Amex jumped really nice. She won last Sunday’s Classic and that was the last time she was in the ring. I ran her pretty hard in that jump-off, and I did not know if that was going to have her a little undone or not,” Minikus explained. “She rode beautifully in the first round today and then she was spot on in the jump-off. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Minikus followed Vale in the jump-off, and was able to take advantage of following behind the seasoned competitor, he noted. “Typical Aaron was lightning fast. Aaron Vale and I were brought up in the same path of horsemen through our years. So today, I was a little older and wiser, I’ll say,” Minikus added.
“I got to go after him [Vale] and that’s always a big deal to be able to follow him, instead of trying to set the pace,” Minikus said. “His horse [Finou 4] tried really hard at the blue oxer before the combination. He had to reorganize before the combination. I got lucky to find the flowing one [stride] to the combination and I think that was the difference.”
Minikus elaborated that part of his success with the mare at TIEC has come from learning how to set her up for success in the venue’s environment. “She’s a little funny in the schooling area and in the traffic. And this schooling area is unique with the people standing above her. So we do wear blinkers on her in the schooling area – it’s just calming for her and helps her concentrate as we are warming up,” Minikus stated.
After receiving her honors and leading the victory gallop, Amex Z was led back to the barn in a rope halter. “We lead a lot of our horses in rope halters,” Minikus revealed. “They behave in them, and it is not as aggressive as a chain over the nose. We like to think we are practicing better horsemanship, even when she gets to be a handful sometimes.”
The winning duo plans to return to Tryon Stadium this Saturday under the lights for the $204,000 Coca-Cola Grand Prix CSI4*, which will kick off at 8pm. After finishing out the week, Minikus plans to remain at TIEC and work with some of the younger horses. “We will show at the national shows here and get some miles for them, and then we will fire back up for the [FEI] summer shows.”