CULPEPER, VA (July 8, 2001)-Todd Minikus, the Sydney Olympic U.S. Team Alternate, and his Olympic mount Oh Star won the $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix at the Showday National Horse Show in Culpeper, Virginia, today. The Showday National is the second of six shows in the HITS Culpeper series at Commonwealth Park held from May to September. Minikus, 39, of Loxahatchee, Florida, was the fastest of four double-clears in a field of 21 horses. He was more than six seconds faster than his closest competitor, Mary Nicholson-Leffler on Graf Rossini S. Minikus is the owner/rider of Oh Star, a 10-year old Belgian-branded stallion, and took home $15,000 for his win. Danny Foster of Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, designed the course.
For Round One, Foster built a 13-jump course that included a vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination at Fence No. 5, a double at Fence No. 8, and a liverpool at Fence No. 9. Time Allowed was set at 95 seconds. Nine horses jumped clear rounds and qualified for the Jump-Off. "Round One was set for the rather mixed field," said Course Designer Foster. "We had some very elite level horses and riders, and some that were developmental. The course was big enough and technically difficult enough to live up to the $50,000 prize money, and yet it still encouraged horses and riders to jump well and finish up well. Course design is always an attempt to get the balance between being too tough, and being difficult enough for the riders and horses, but still encouraging."
Foster's Jump-Off required riders to start at the gray walls at Fence No. 2, take a long gallop diagonally across the arena to the yellow-and-blue oxer at Fence No. 4, make a hard left to the two verticals at 5BC, keep left to the purple column vertical at Fence No. 6, then turn right to the blue-and-white over the water at No. 9, followed by a long swooping curve around to the final line home, the Antares vertical at No. 12 to the final green-and-white oxer at 13. Time Allowed was set at 62 seconds.
Mary Nicholson-Leffler of Brookville, Maryland, was first in the Jump-Off order riding Graf Rossini S who set the pace with a clear round in 47.828, but she ended up in second place, taking home $11,000 for owners Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Chovnick. Minikus went next in the order on Oh Star, scorching the arena in 41.388, which proved to be unbeatable and held up against the next seven riders.
Ian Silitch of Sperryville, Virginia, on his Cable went third in the order and chalked up the closest time to the lead, but lowered two fences for eight faults in 45.681, finishing in seventh place for $2,000. Amateur rider Maureen Brennan of Middleburg, Virginia, on Foxmount Farm's Mr. Higgens tried for a careful round in 48.832, but had a rail and finished fifth, earning $5,000. Sulu Rose of Manakin, Virginia, riding Cool Waters posted the third double-clear performance of the class, but her time of 49.445 was only good enough for fourth place and $4,000.
Mark Leone of Oakland, New Jersey, riding Pinkata de Longpre owned by Ri Arm Farm incurred seven jumping faults early on course and retired, taking the eighth place ribbon and $1,500. Next to go was Harold Chopping of Wake Forest, North Carolina, on Shadwell, who took an unplanned dismount at the third fence relegating him to ninth place, which paid $1,500. Amateur rider Randy Johnson of Comus, Maryland, on Cardinal, a horse he owns with Greener Pastures took his time, but still had a rail in 52.069 to finish in sixth place for $2,500. Last to go on course, Ian Silitch returned with his second horse, Brave Ally, owned by November Hill Farm, and put in the fourth double-clear of the class, but with his time of 48.409, he had to settle for third place and $6,500.
"Todd got every bit of the Jump-Off to win this class," said Foster. "There were places where you could turn extremely tight to very tall fences and he did that great, and there were places where you had a lot of room between jumps to open your horse up and gallop, and he got all of that too. He made the turns so tightly and so accurately, and he galloped so fast across the ground. He went early in the Jump-Off and it was such a challenge to the other participants that they tried to repeat his performance. Some of them who tried to beat him-the great riders that they are, who are trying to win no matter what-it didn't work out very well for them because they had so much to beat. Perhaps some of the other ones stuck to their own plan, and what they and their horses are capable of, and didn't win, but finished up solidly and got good ribbons from it."
HITS Commonwealth Park is located at 13256 Commonwealth Parkway in Culpeper, Virginia, 3.5 miles off Route 522 South. During HITS Culpeper horse shows, telephone 540-825-7469 for more information.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Hilton, HITS Media & Public Relations, 319 Main Street, Saugerties, NY 12477, Phone: 845-246-8833, Fax: 845-246-6371. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
$50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix, July 8, 2001 HITS Culpeper II, Culpeper, Virginia
Course Designer: Danny Foster
Pl/#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults/J-O Time
1/Oh Star/Todd Minikus/Todd Minikus Ltd/$15,000/0/0-41.388
2/Graf Rossini S/Mary Nicholson-Leffler/Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Chovnick/$11,000/0/0/47.828
3/Brave Ally/Ian Silitch/November Hill Farm/$6,500/0/0/48.409
4/Cool Waters/Sulu rose /the Galloping Field/$4,000/0/0/49.445
5/Mr. Higgens/Maureen Brennan/Foxmount Farm LLC/$3,000/0/4/48.832
6/Cardinal/Randy Johnson/Randy Johnson/$2,500/0/4/52.069
7/Cable/Ian Silitch. Ian & Jacquelyn Silitch/$2,000/0/8/45.681
8/Pinkata de Longpre/mark Leone/ri Arm Farm/$1,500/0/VW
9/Shadwell/Harold Chopping/Mr. & Mr.s Wyatt Stewart/$1,500/0/E
10/Aalsmeer's Enterprize/Mark Leone/Aalsmeer Farm/$1,000/4/NA
11/Furistos Treasure/Tricia O'Connor/Cloverlea Farm Inc./$1,000/$/NA
umber of horses who competed in this class: 21
Class Prize Money: $50,000