After a week of R&R for Zephyr between WEF 3 and 5, Todd Minikus and the Dutch Warmblood gelding didn’t miss a beat, capturing yet another major Grand Prix win in Wellington — their fourth in a row.
During week three, Todd and Zephyr claimed both 1.45m $35,000 classes with incredible ease, and popping up to the 1.50m level in week 5 did nothing to slow them down.
Team Minikus linchpin and Todd’s wife Amanda Minikus couldn’t contain her enthusiasm when discussing the potential and simpatico of the pair. “Todd started riding Zephyr in November, and this time they just nailed it. They really make a fantastic combination — every time they go out, they’ve been unbeatable.”
All this despite the fact that Zephyr had a slippery turn in the jump-off of his first class of the week; an event that might have rattled a less confident horse or rider, but instead almost seemed to give the gelding a small advantage.
“I think my turn to the skinny (jump) was probably what made my time,” Todd said after the win. “He actually slipped a little bit in the turn, but I think it shocked him into jumping the skinny clear, so it helped.”
They came back two days later in the $86,000 class on Sunday afternoon and pinned down an even stronger round, besting some of the top riders at WEF.
“It was kind of a fast rider ‘Who’s Who’ in the jump-off with riders like Kent, Conor, and Eric,” Minikus said of the Sunday win. “I thought it was going to be fast, and it ended being blistering, really. That was a very fast round. It seemed like everything came up nice for me, and I was able to just keep going and going, so I am pretty happy with it.”
Zephyr’s rising success is a dual effort between Team Minikus and Michael Dorman and Ronnie Beard of Wyndmont Farms. Michael and Ronnie developed the horse, manage him day to day and then pass the horse to Todd for the master class performance – a formula which has proven successful with other horses in their string as well this season, such as Valinski S.
“They are both careful horses, and I think Todd challenges them enough with the pace,” said Ronnie after Zephyr’s win. “I think that after slowly bringing them along, they are ready for it, and I think Todd is the person to do it with them.”
Todd and the rest of the team will be on site at the Winter Equestrian Festival for the remainder of the tour, and certainly it’s not the last we’ll see of Zephyr flying to the top.