Todd Minikus, Loxahatchee, FL, was the first to go out of a starting field of 28 riders in the $100,000 Rolex/USET Show Jumping Championship at the Festival of Champions. But that position was to be in his favor as he set a pace for the six riders that made it into the jump-off that was tough to beat. In the end he held on to the lead and won $30,000 for his efforts aboard Oh Star, his Sydney Olympic alternate horse.
"For me, going first is a better way to go because then I go the pace I think is fast enough. When I watch I think 'how can I go that fast' and then I end up going too fast," explained Minikus after finishing the jump-off ahead of McLain Ward, who was second on Cameo, fifth on Victor and sixth on Rio; Jimmy Torano, who was third on Lancier 4 and Olympic teammate Margie Engle who was fourth on Hidden Creeks Perin.
Minikus had just gotten in from Roanoke, VA where he won a $50,000 Grand Prix on another mount. So, he was ready to try it again on his 10-year-old, 16.2 hand, chestnut, Oldenburg Stallion. When they started out Oh Star did his typical buck and kick before settling in to jump the course. This was a pattern the horse picked up when he was young and Minikus never corrected. Now it's part of his jumping routine. Yet, once Oh Star starts the course he's totally focused.
"He does everything really well. He's good with his jumping technique. The worst he does is jump and play, mostly when you try to get him going," explained Minikus.