Lexington, KY — International show jumping veteran and trainer Todd Minikus knows quality when he sees it— and three years ago he started a winning streak synonymous with the word, thanks to a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare known as Quality Girl. Since then, man and mare have tallied some of the biggest wins in the sport— including the 2014 Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS-Saugerties and Horse of the Year honors. Just this weekend, Minikus and Quality Girl once again surpassed competitors when they won the $25,000 Blue Grass Classic at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show in Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park. Now, just five months into 2015, the veteran of more than 75 Grand Prix wins has added enough victories to this season's tally to keep show office calculators busy and international competitors nervous.
Neither Minikus, nor Quality Girl and his other exceptional equine partners, are showing any signs of slowing down.
Minikus is strategically based in the Homeland equestrian development just minutes from Wellington, Florida's Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) show grounds, where his 2015 victories began. In January, he led a 22-horse jump-off to win the $30,000 WEF Week 1 Grand Prix on Cordonos and set the pace for an epic season.
February’s Week 8 at the Winter Equestrian Festival saw Minikus ride his “greener” grand prix partner, Babalou 14, and anchor a winning Team USA effort against nine competing countries in the $100,000 Nations Cup presented by Kingsland Equestrian. The first to jump for his squad in each round, he delivered double clears on Two Swans Farms' 10-year-old Oldenburg mare who— in lieu of his stand-out star, Quality Girl— Minikus had asked U.S. coach Robert Ridland for permission to use in the Nations Cup. “I really appreciate the fact that I have had the opportunity to bring her from a schooling jumper to winning a Nations Cup. That's pretty special— she’s got a big future.”
His astute eye for rising talent was further confirmed in March with a second big win for Two Swans Farm on Babalou 14 against a starting field of 49 in the Winter Equestrian Festival’s $150,000 Grand Prix CSIO4*, presented by Lugano Diamonds.
As April action heated up along Miami Beach for the Longines Global Champions Tour, Minikus kept winning form against a world-class field. He rode Quality Group’s Oldenburg, Quality Girl, to win the $34,000 Elm Rock Prix 1.45/1.50m CSI5*. “I just let her do her thing,” he said. “Normally, it turns out well.”
Turning out “well” is an understatement for the pair, whose history last year includes winning the opening leg of FEI World Cup Jumping qualifiers in Bromont, Canada, finishing sixth at Harrisburg in October, and closing the year with enough points collected after the Washington International to win the FEI World Cup Jumping 2014/2015 North America East Coast League standings.
Minikus’s impressive results prompted HorseTalk of New Zealand reporters to note that all that was left this year was for Minikus to “sit back and let the rest catch up to him.”
Never one to sit still, though, Minikus sprang into Spring with two rising new talents to mark his third consecutive decade of winning performances in Kentucky. He scored a May 6 win for Plum Creek Hollow Farm in the $5,000 1.45m Open Jumper class on Westphalian stallion, Con Capilot, plus a win for Two Swans Farms in the Six Year Old Jumpers on Maharaja Del Juncal.
“I'm still experimenting with him,” he said of Con Capilot, after going in second in the order and setting a 42.680 effort too fast and too flawless for Aaron Vale and Bonzini S to catch.
“This was a great kick off for Team Minikus in Kentucky. I've been coming here before it was the Kentucky Horse Park, when it was grass rings and they used gas station flags to separate them! It's great to see how much it has grown.”
It's just as great to watch how this American show jumping celebrity continues to grow a talented string of jumpers. To the thrill of fans, Minikus did not disappoint when he entered the arena on May 10 with Quality Girl to win the $25,000 Blue Grass Classic.
“This will be my third year with her, so it's always nice to establish a partnership with a horse like this. You really think of her as a veteran of the sport, but it's just her third year doing this sport at an upper level, so she's just now really coming into her own, even though she has already had great success.”
The $25,000 Blue Grass Classic win has prompting pulling out those calculators again as Minikus tallies still more points on the USEF/Rolex Show Jumping Ranking List, where he has been seeded eighth on Babalou 14 and 23rd on Quality Girl.