Ocala, Fla. – March 12, 2017 – The 2017 Live Oak International hosted the final leg of the Eastern Sub-League of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League (NAL) to qualify for the upcoming 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals in Omaha, Nebraska, March 29–April 2. Todd Minikus secured his spot to Omaha on Sunday after claiming the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier CSI3*-W, presented by Golden Ocala Golf Equestrian Club, with Babalou, owned by Jack Snyder and Two Swans Farm.
A total of 14 North American riders will book a ticket to this year’s World Cup Finals. Four spots are allocated to the two top-placed Canadian and Mexican riders in the rankings. Three spots go to the already completed NAL Western Sub-League, while the top seven in the NAL Eastern Sub-League was decided in Ocala on Sunday.
Going in to Sunday’s high-pressure competition, Minikus was sitting in 19th place in the NAL Eastern Sub-League rankings. However, after besting Germany’s Andre Thieme and his own Conthendrix’s jump-off time by two seconds as last to go, he moved up to seventh to just squeeze into the top seven and qualify for Omaha. Minikus also claimed the $50,000 Live Oak International Grand Prix CSI2* with Quality Girl in 2013.
“The pressure was on more in the qualifying class [on Friday],” said Minikus. “I had two jumps down — 8 faults — and then I was driving back to Wellington very worried that I wasn’t going to be qualified. There was a 5* grand prix last night [at WEF] that I had to drive back for and clients were showing Saturday morning, so Friday, when I left here, I was in a hurry and I had somebody texting me as I continued to fall down the list. Luckily it worked out!
“I could have the reputation of going maybe a little too fast once in a while so I was basically trying not to turn too tight or make a silly mistake by going too fast and Andre was pretty quick,” continued Minikus. “It was a great event and I am very excited to be back. Two times I’ve been here and I’ve ended up winning so I’m all about Live Oak. It’s a great event and it turned out to be very exciting today.”
Course designer of the 2012 London Olympic Games, Bob Ellis, and Kelvin Bywater built a technical track on the grass field at Live Oak Plantation, which saw 18 out of the original starting field of 36 jump clear to advance to the tiebreaker.
“I thought the footing for today was excellent,” said Ellis. “It provided some good sport, which we had. We had a few more clear rounds than I expected, I have to say, but what a great jump-off. These guys made it very, very exciting.”
Canada’s Nicole Walker was the early clear pathfinder in the jump-off as the first to go in 53.81 seconds with her own Falco Van Spieveld, which would earn her fifth place honors in Sunday’s final standings.
El Salvador’s Paulo Sergio Matteo Santana Filho and his own Taloubet produced the next double-clear effort three rounds later in 52.47 seconds to take over the lead, yet finishing in fourth place overall.
Not long after, Thieme outpaced Filho’s time by three seconds in 49.39 seconds. France’s Alexandra Paillot followed Thieme’s performance in 51.68 seconds aboard Paillot Equine Consulting Inc. & Ale’s Polias De Blondel, which would be good enough for third place at the end of the day, while Thieme would settle for reserve honors.
“I was pretty sure that I would end up in the top three with that and I was also pretty sure that I was not going to win it with that,” said Thieme. “Then, one after the other had rails and didn’t catch my time so there was that final moment where I said, ‘Maybe I could win.’ Then I saw [Todd] warming up and I knew he was on it. I was afraid of Cian and [Todd] so I settle with second today.”
Nine riders later, Minikus entered the ring and strategically took every chance he could to seal his fate. He piloted the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare to a clear round in 47.77 seconds for the win.
Now looking ahead to World Cup Finals in Omaha in just over two weeks, Minikus is prepared to do what he can to make the trip.
“We’ll have to discuss with the owners and see what the rest of the team wants to do but hopefully we go to World Cup Finals,” said Minikus. “We for sure came here to try to have the option [to go to Omaha].”
$100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier CSI3*-W
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults / Time
1. Babalou / Todd Minikus / USA / 0 | 79.10 / 0 | 47.77
2. Conthendrix / Andre Thieme / GER / 0 | 81.40 / 0 | 49.39
3. Polias de Blondel / Alexandra Paillot / FRA / 0 | 80.80 / 0 | 51.68
4. Taloubet / Paulo Sergio Matteo Santana Filho / ESA / 0 | 81.04 / 0 | 52.47
5. Falco van Spieveld / Nicole Walker / CAN / 0 | 80.40 / 0 | 53.81
6. Codarco / Chloe Reid / USA / 0 | 81.11 / 4 | 48.88
7. Dougie Douglas / Katherine A. Dinan / USA / 0 | 80.93 / 4 | 50.09
8. The Kingdom / Christina Kelly / IRL / 0 | 80.31 / 4 | 50.23
9. NKH Caruso / Christian Heineking / GER / 0 | 80.39 / 4 | 50.66
10. Casper / Sharn Wordley / NZL / 0 | 80.64 / 4 | 50.90
11. Callisto / Cian O’Connor / IRL / 0 | 81.70 / 4 | 52.72
12. Reus de la Nutria / Emanuel Andrade / VEN / 0 | 78.52 / 4 | 53.68
Final Standings: Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League Eastern Sub-League
Final Standings: Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League Western Sub-League