Wellington, FL – February 5, 2017 – Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou 41 concluded week four of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a victory in Sunday’s $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4*, held on the beautiful grass derby field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL.
Minikus topped a three-horse jump-off over Olympian Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone in second, and young rider Jennifer Gates (USA) riding Pumped Up Kicks for third.
The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its fifth week of competition, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, on February 8-12, 2017. The week’s highlights include the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 on Thursday, February 9, the $380,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI 5* on Saturday, February 11, as well as the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and the $50,000 Equo LLC Grand Prix CSI 2* on Sunday, February 12. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.
The beautiful derby field at Equestrian Village at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center hosted Sunday’s $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4*. PC: Sportfot
Course designer Steve Stephens (USA) wrapped up his duties for week four with the highlight grand prix event at PBIEC’s Equestrian Village, also home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. Thirty-two entries started over Stephens’ first round course, and three were able to advance to the jump-off.
First to jump clear in round one, and first to jump-off, Jennifer Gates guided Evergate Stable’s Pumped Up Kicks through the short course in a steady time of 51.28 seconds, incurring two time faults to earn the third place prize.
Sergio Alvarez Moya was next to go with G&C Farm’s Unicstar de l’Aumone, clearing the jump-off track in 40.30 seconds. Last to go, Minikus and Two Swans Farm’s Babalou 41 took the win, racing through the timers in 38.79 seconds.
Minikus was awarded the Village of Wellington Cup, and Babalou 41 earned the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award, presented by Laura Fetterman. The 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I) showed her experience of competing around the world by heading onto the impressive field for the first time and putting in two faultless efforts.
“This was hard because they had to walk out here for the first time and be right on their game,” Minikus stated. “You needed a little bit of an experienced horse, so it worked out for us. This was a 4*, and I think it was built as a proper 4*. It was difficult enough, and we had beautiful weather. That field is beautiful when you stand up there on the hill and look out there. This was always the best polo field in maybe the world, and the footing still seems quite nice.”
Todd Minikus and Babalou 41 in their winning presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector, Vice Mayor John McGovern, Councilman Michael Drahos, Councilwoman Tanya Siskind, Councilman Michael Napoleone, Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo, Chanse Huggins and Kasey Mowery of Ariat®, and Mayor Anne Gerwig presenting the Village of Wellington Cup.
Todd Minikus and Babalou 41 in their winning presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector, Vice Mayor John McGovern, Councilman Michael Drahos, Councilwoman Tanya Siskind, Councilman Michael Napoleone, Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo, Chanse Huggins and Kasey Mowery of Ariat®, and Village of Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig presenting the Village of Wellington Cup. PC: Sportfot
G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone is just nine years old, but the Selle Francais mare (Ninio de Rox x Timorrak des Isles) has experience winning on the grass. She and Moya topped two Sparkassen Youngster Cup Qualifiers at CHIO Aachen in 2016.
“She jumps very good on grass or sand,” Moya noted. “I was in this grand prix seven or eight years ago, and I love the ring. I like the mare very much and I thought it was a really good place for her. She jumped amazing, and I am happy with her.”
Gates earned the Leading Lady Rider Award for week four, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, after Sunday’s top finish, and a sixth place in Thursday’s qualifier. She was thrilled with Pumped Up Kicks, her 14-year-old Brandenburg gelding (Levisto x San Juan).
“I am over the moon,” Gates smiled. “I did him in some Under 25 classes last year out on the grass field, and he was amazing. I am ecstatic with how he jumped today. It took an experienced horse for that course, which I definitely had.
“I knew these two were going to be faster than me, so my plan was to try and have a clear round and put the pressure on a tiny bit in case they had a rail, which of course they did not,” Gates continued. “This past Thursday I was sixth in the WEF Challenge Cup qualifier, and that was my biggest accomplishment with this horse so far, so to come out here and be third was a huge deal. I am thrilled to be third in great company.”
Competing on Sunday in the International Arena on the main show grounds at PBIEC, Luciana Gonzalez Guerra and Guadalupe Gonzalez’s Star Light won the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic, presented by Sleepy P Ranch. Abbie Sweetnam and Chadburn Holdings’ Parco topped the $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic, and Alexandra Markarian and Bandro were victorious in the $10,000 Equiline Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
Final Results: $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4*
1. BABALOU 41: 2005 Oldenburg mare by Balou du Rouet x Silvio I
TODD MINIKUS (USA), Two Swans Farm: 0/0/38.79
2. G&C UNICSTAR DE L’AUMONE: 2008 Selle Francais mare by Ninio de Rox x Timorrak des Isles
SERGIO ALVAREZ MOYA (ESP), Alvarez Moya Horse SL: 0/0/40.30
3. PUMPED UP KICKS: 2003 Brandenburg gelding by Levisto x San Juan
JENNIFER GATES (USA), Evergate Stable LLC: 0/2/51.28
4. GAZELLE: 2006 Belgian Warmblood mare by Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington & Robin Parsky: 4/76.58
5. SUPER CHILLED: 2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Gelvin Clover
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington: 4/77.98
6. WATERFORD: 2003 KWPN gelding by Coolcorron Cool Diamond x Julio Mariner XX
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura and Meredith Mateo: 4/78.88
7. LADRIANO Z: 2008 Zangersheide gelding by Lawito x Baloubet du Rouet
DANIEL BLUMAN (ISR), Blue Star Investments & Alexa Schwitzer: 4/78.96
8. JAVAS KELTIC MIST: 2006 Irish Sport Horse gelding by ARD VDL Douglas x Clover Hill
CAPT. BRIAN COURNANE (IRL), Glenbeigh Farm LLC: 4/79.61
9. CONSTANCE: 2007 KWPN mare by Indoctro x Animo
JESSICA MENDOZA (GBR), Milena Pappas: 4/80.29
10. CALVIN KLEIN: 2004 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento x Feliciano
JONATHON MILLAR (CAN), Millar Brooke Farm Ltd: 4/80.35
11. FREESTYLE DE MUZE: 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Lord Z x CentoRICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 4/80.94
12. CROWN 5: 2005 Holsteiner gelding by Cassini I x Lord
GEORGINA BLOOMBERG (USA), Gotham Enterprizes LLC: 4/81.30
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