Gladstone, NJ-September 10, 2001-The U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) wrapped up what chef d'equipe George Morris called, "a heck of show" at the Spruce Meadows Masters (CSIO Spruce Meadows) in Calgary, Canada by placing five riders in the top 12 in the world's first $1 million show jumping grand prix.
Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL continued his successful summer with his Oh Star finishing as the top American in the Nortel Networks International. Minikus, who rode Oh Star to win the $100,000 Rolex USET Show Jumping Championship at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions Presented by State Line Tack in June and the $175,000 Cargill Grand Prix of the United States at the Oaks Blenheim CSI-A in July, finished third behind the winner, World Champion Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil with Gandini Lianos, and the runner-up, European Champion Ludger Beerbaum of Germany on Gladdys S. "He's still a very young horse," Minikus, the 2000 Olympic reserve rider, said of his chestnut stallion. Oh Star had four faults in the first round with a foot in the water, then put in a beautiful clear in the second round. "But he has shown along the way that he is in the upper category of the top horses in the world," Minkus continued. "He's an unbelievable athlete and that's all you can hope for. The rest of it is luck."
However, it was skill more than luck that helped the U.S. dominate the ribbons in the Nortel, which featured many of the world's best riders, including 2001 World Cup Champion Markus Fuchs of Switzerland and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Jeroen Dubbeldam of Holland. More than 26,000 fans watched around the International Arena as Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY on Iron Spring Farm's Judgement finished right behind Minikus in the ribbons. Lauren Hough of Ocala, FL, the youngest rider on the 2000 Sydney Olympic team, came in fifth on her Sydney Games mount, Clasiko. Both she and Madden had clear trips in the first round, along with Alison Firestone on Casanova, who wound up 12th after dropping three fences in the second round.
Hough's Sydney teammate, Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, WI, who had won a class earlier in the week on Anthem, owned by The Summit Group, came in seventh on that mount. She had one rail down in the first round, and another knockdown and a time fault in the second. The only double-clear in the class belonged to Pessoa, so no jump-off was necessary under the two-round format. Americans dominated the show, with Kraut, Minikus, Hough and Leslie Howard all winning major classes. Victories in smaller classes went to Rich Fellers and Ray Texel, who scored his top placing with Lexicon in a class on the final day.