Todd Minikus and Calvalou Prevail Under Pressure in $36,000 Sunday Classic CSI2* at TIEC

Mill Spring, N.C. – July 2, 2019 – Todd Minikus and Calvalou dominated the $36,000 Sunday Classic CSI2* at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), stopping the jump-off timers at 35.465 seconds. Aaron Vale (USA) and Eye Catcher, a 2009 Dutch Sport Horse gelding (Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve x Narcos II SF) owned by Troy Glaus, took second place on a clear jump-off performance of 38.112 seconds, while David O’Brien (IRL) and Kir Royal SCF, a 2010 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Amaretto D’Arco x Nabab de Reve) owned by Spy Coast Farm, LLC, claimed third-place honors on an eight-fault effort in 36.169 seconds.

Todd Minikus and Calvalou Photo: ©Sportfot
Todd Minikus and Calvalou
Photo: ©Sportfot

The Guilherme Jorge (BRA) designed course did not fail to test the riders, with only three pairs out of the field of 20 qualifying for the short-course track. Minikus and his own 2007 Oldenburg gelding (Calvaro F.C. x Baloubet du Rouet) laid down a careful and efficient round that put them well ahead for the win.

Aaron Vale and Eye Catcher Photo: ©Sportfot
Aaron Vale and Eye Catcher
Photo: ©Sportfot

Minikus explained that heading into the three-man jump-off was stressful following his performances in Saturday night’s $72,000 Ingles Grand Prix CSI 2*: “I was a little frustrated heading into today. I didn’t do much differently [this morning] other than just ride better and not make silly mistakes. There were only three clear, so it was a hard enough course.”

David O'Brien and Kir Royal SCF Photo: ©Sportfot
David O’Brien and Kir Royal SCF
Photo: ©Sportfot

“Aaron put in just a nice clear and so I tried not to shoot myself in the foot and go too fast,” Minikus shared on his strategy heading into the jump-off. “I don’t know what the [time] margin was, but I did one or two less strides in the first line and the second line, and I think that was the difference. I’m proud of Calvalou – he jumped great, so we’ll keep feeding him Purina and come back next week!”

Minikus, a familiar face at TIEC, will be based at the venue for the remainder of the summer and also plans to compete in the fall series, he shared, and aims to carry his positive momentum into next week’s CSI3* competition. “We will be back for the 3* Grand Prix next week!” Minikus concluded.


$36,000 Sunday Classic CSI2*
Place / Horse / Rider / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Calvalou / Todd Minikus / 0 | 78.38 / 0 | 35.465
2. Eye Catcher / Aaron Vale / 0 | 80.57 / 0 | 38.112
3. Kir Royal SCF / David O’Brien / 0 | 80.57 / 8 | 36.169
4. Baltimore / Amanda Flint / 1 | 83.75
5. Valinski S / Steve Schaefer / 4 | 75.74
6. Rye Val De Mai / Sharn Wordley / 4 | 76.37
7. Gipsy 1134 / Taylor Kain / 4 | 77.62
8. Zarkava / Steve Schaefer / 4 | 77.63
9. Donna Vi / Pablo Barrios / 4 | 77.89
10. Eblesse / Jill Henselwood / 4 | 79.58
11. VDL Wittinger / Amanda Flint / 4 | 79.83
12. Darius / Sean Jobin / 5 | 82.21

For full results, click here.

Sweet Victory for Olivia Sweetnam and Secret Crush in the $10,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Presented by Dover Saddlery

Olivia Sweetnam of Wellington, FL, and Secret Crush, owned by Jill Shulman, earned top honors in the $10,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby presented by Dover Saddlery at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), receiving a two-round score of 171.5. Jennings Goodwin of Raleigh, NC, piloted her own Touch the Sun to a second-place finish with a score of 168, while Katherine Mercer of Wellington, FL, and Benlea Mizzou, owned by Juliette Propp, claimed third-place honors with a total score of 162.

Olivia Sweetnam and Secret Crush Photo: ©Sportfot
Olivia Sweetnam and Secret Crush
Photo: ©Sportfot

Although the pair are only able to practice at shows, Sweetnam shared that she and Secret Crush have really taken to each other. “I started [riding Secret Crush] just before WEF. She’s only six years old, but she’s very easy and so straightforward. She’s probably the easiest pony I’ve ever ridden and she’s the most fun for sure.”

Thirty-six pairs tested the first round set by Dean Rheinheimer of Sheridan, IN, with 12 returning for the handy round. After a first-round score of 83.5 put them into second place, the duo went into the handy round determined to best the competition. “When I saw the beginning of it [the handy round], I didn’t see that many [people making] handy turns so I made sure that when I went in I was extra handy,” Sweetnam explained.

Friday’s Pony Hunter Derby was held in the Tryon Stadium, allowing future USEF Pony Finals contestants, like Sweetnam, to get a taste of what competition will be like in a larger arena. Sweetnam commented that her favorite part of the Derby was “the victory gallop–it was so much fun! [Showing in the big ring] was amazing, and it was such a cool experience.”

Jill Shulman, who owns Secret Crush, commented on the duo’s success, stating, “We were lucky enough to have her ride the pony all winter at the Winter Equestrian Festival, where they were Circuit Champion in the Small Pony Hunter Division. It was really exciting since the pony is only six years old,” Shulman emphasized. “It’s just been a pleasure; Olivia is an amazing rider and her and the pony get along so well. It’s been so much fun!”

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