Mill Spring, NC – October 24, 2020 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Amex Z took home a sweet victory in the $214,000 WIHS President’s Cup Grand Prix CSI 4* presented by MARS Equestrian™, tripping the jump-off timers in a time of 36.52 to chase down a win in the marquis class of the week at Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort (TIEC). Karl Cook (USA) and Caillou 24, the 2007 Holsteiner gelding (Casall x San Patrignano Corrado) owned by Signe Ostby, earned reserve honors by clearing the short course in 36.82 seconds, while third place saw a historic tie. Beat Mändli (SUI) and Galan S, the Grant Road Partners LLC-owned 2006 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Indoctro x Calypso D’herbiers), stopped the timers in 37.39 seconds. Also completing the jump-off in 37.39 seconds, Lillie Keenan (USA) claimed not only the third-place rank, but also the Leading Lady Award presented by Fab Finds by Sarah and the U25 International Rider Award sponsored by Katherine Kaneb and Family, piloting the 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vigo D’Arsouilles x Farmer) owned by Chansonette Farm LLC, Fasther.
The Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) course design tested 50 entries over the first round, accepting 15 pairs back for the speed test. Minikus and the 2009 Zangersheide mare (Andiamo Z x Landaris) were up against some of the world’s best, including three top ten FEI World Ranking riders, and several former winners of the WIHS President’s Cup, but Minikus was able to pull off his third victory, this time at a venue he often calls home base.
“I have to be honest, when I was in the schooling area and I saw Karl’s horse, who was just unbelievable last week, and Beat Mändli, who the week before rode one of the fanciest jump-offs I’ve ever seen in my life, and Lillie’s freaky fast chestnut, and then Kent Farrington… I thought, ‘wow this is a crazy jump-off,’” Minikus admitted. “My horse warmed up well and I gave it a good try, and somehow it worked out!” Claiming his first WIHS President’s Cup win in 1990, Minikus became one of just a handful to have ever earned three such wins with his performance.
Minikus and his star mare have taken their time to become competitive at the top levels, making headlines and podiums all summer at TIEC and throughout the country. “The truth is it took her awhile to be competitive at this level, and this summer she stepped up and won six or seven, or maybe even eight Grands Prix,” he said of Amex Z. “She started learning how to win, even if some were smaller classes, and it paid off today!”
Meanwhile, Cook’s debut WIHS President’s Cup resulted in a reserve finish, which he considers “pretty darn good,” he shared. “The only place I could really let Caillou’s strength come up, his stride, was from [fence] two to three. I just tried to do the best that I could in the turns, and I think Todd got me at the second to last [fence], where I had to add. Even if we did the same number of strides, because Caillou’s stride is so much bigger, it was an add for me and I was pulling, but I also don’t think the six was physically possible. So, I think the second to last and the last fence is where Todd got me,” he reflected. “I’m happy with that!”
Mändli capped off his first experience at TIEC with a podium finish in addition to his win in Tryon Fall 3’s $137,000 Coca-Cola® Grand Prix CSI 3*, noting that things “worked out very well. I really like it here; the venue is obviously very good, everything is perfect, I think. Galan S is the sweetest horse I have ever sat on,” Mändli shared. “He is like a little kid and he tries to please you in everything that he does. He is a fantastic horse.”
Keenan called Fasther “the most talented horse I have ever had the pleasure to ride and I am extra lucky, because he is mine. When I first got him, I knew he had all the talent in the world, but rideability was a big struggle. The jump-off is not my personal strength at the moment, with any horse,” she shared, “but luckily my horse is absolutely unbelievable. I think he is probably the best horse in the world and I just have to do my part.”
Reflecting on her rounds and also the accolades collected as a result of her top finish, Keenan concluded, “I slowed down on my way to the last line, and that was the one place I second-guessed myself. I shouldn’t have done that, but I am over the moon to be here and to be sitting with this group of riders. I am absolutely thrilled,” she emphasized. “I think any event that promotes women in sport is admirable, and I am really privileged to be here. Hopefully, I can help prove that women are just as good, if not better than men in our sport.”
Minikus acknowledged his staff, including Brooke and Danny Balzani, who earned the WIHS Grooms Award sponsored by Claudia and Sparky Frost and SHF Enterprises, in addition to the generous sponsors who made the joint hosting of the WIHS President’s Cup possible at TIEC alongside WIHS Equitation and Pony Equitation Finals, plus the WIHS Children’s and Adult Hunter and Jumper Finals.
“I would like to thank MARS Equestrian™ for supporting the sport of show jumping as well as everyone here at Tryon. They pulled off a great event. Also to my staff, Dani and Brooke, who take care of Amex; they work really hard all year with her and they do a really great job. I appreciate everything.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Amex Z / Todd Minikus / USA / Bit by Bit Group / 0 | 74.76 / 0 | 36.52
2. Caillou 24 / Karl Cook / USA / Signe Ostby / 0 | 75.26 / 0 | 36.82
3. Galan S / Beat Mändli / SUI / Grant Road Partners LLC / 0 | 73.69 / 0 | 37.39
3. Fasther / Lillie Keenan / USA / Chansonette Farm LLC / 0 | 75.45 / 0 | 37.39
5. Amsterdam 27 / Mario Deslauriers / CAN / Wishing Well Farm LLC / 0 | 77.80 / 0 | 37.7
6. Antidote de Mars / Bliss Heers / USA / Bridgeside Farms LLC / 0 | 74.25 / 0 | 38.37
7. Explosion W / Ben Maher / GBR / Charlotte Rossetter / 0 | 75.17 / 0 | 38.39
8. Gemma W / Daniel Bluman / ISR / Over the Top Stables LLC / 0 | 77.31 / 0 | 38.83
9. VDL Cartello / Lorcan Gallagher / IRL / Heathman Farm LLC / 0 | 73.31 / 0 | 38.92
10. Eddie Blue / Devin Ryan / USA / LL Show Jumpers LLC / 0 | 78.42 / 0 | 39.91
11. Cornwall BH / Amanda Derbyshire / GBR / Gochman Sport Horses LLC / 0 | 73.69 / 0 | 46.92
12. Garant / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0 | 76.13 / 4 | 38.91