Todd Minikus (USA) and Wyndmont’s Zephyr continued their winning form on Friday, February 10, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL, with a top finish in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m speed class following back-to-back victories in week three.
2012 Olympic course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) set the track for 50 entries in Friday’s CSI 5* edition of the 1.45m competition, clocking 19 clear rounds. Minikus and Zephyr were the winners with their time of 57.52 seconds. Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili finished second in 58.12 seconds, and Yuri Mansur (BRA) guided Louise Weber’s Cula Lou V to third place in 58.18 seconds.
Minikus and Zephyr, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Landor S x Calvados) won week three’s $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m and $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m speed classes just two days apart. Zephyr then had a week off and returned to the ring fresh and ready to go on Friday.
“He feels good. They did not jump him during the week,” said Minikus, who rides Zephyr at the ring and leaves the gelding’s training duties to the team at Wyndmont. “I gave him a little school yesterday in the FEI, and that was it.
“I didn’t get to watch many go today because I was doing the 1.35m and some other classes,” Minikus continued. “I think my turn to the skinny (jump) was probably what made my time. He actually slipped a little bit in the turn, but I think it shocked him into jumping the skinny clear, so it helped.”
Minikus and the team at Wyndmont, which includes trainers Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman, also made the decision to change Zephyr’s bridle this week to help his turning ability.
“He was a little awkward turning to the left before, but we changed bridles, and now he seems good in both directions,” Minikus explained. “He feels equal on both sides, so we are getting some small things figured out, and he keeps getting better.”
Minikus and Zephyr will jump again in Sunday’s $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. In addition to top prizes, Illustrated Properties presented special leading rider awards to Minikus as the highest-placed professional rider in the class, and Katie Dinan (USA) as the highest-placed non-professional rider.
Also competing in the International Arena on Friday, the $35,000 1.45m jump-off class was featured for the CSI 2* competitors with 56 entries, and 16 advancing to the jump-off. The win went to Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding Kerry Anne LLC’s Bolero III, last to go over the short course in 36.38 seconds. Venezuela’s Luis Larrazabal finished second riding San Francisco Stables’ G&C Close Up through the timers in 37.16 seconds. Brett Burlington (USA) and Alden Burlington’s Bluf placed third in 38.28 seconds.
The $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m Speed Challenge concluded the day with a win for Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Gotham Enterprizes’ South Street. The morning’s $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed saw victory for David Oberkircher and Southfields Farm LLC’s Castelino van de Helle.