Myakka City, Florida – March 19, 2022 – Perfect conditions and a picturesque panorama set the stage for the $50,000 TerraNova Grand Prix during the first week of the TerraNova Spring Series. Spanning two weeks from March 16-27, 2022, the venue’s spring series hosts a variety of USEF A-rated national hunter, equitation and Level 4 jumper competition. Saving the best for last, New Zealand’s Scott Keach (AUS) emerged victorious in the week’s featured event aboard Southern Cross Equestrian, LLC’s Fedor.
Mauricio Garcia Ballestros (PUR) designed an intricate track that took advantage the spacious TerraNova Grand Prix Arena and included several tests for the riders, including three combination obstacles with a succinct time allowed of 85 seconds.
“It is an interesting group here today because there are some veteran combinations but also some up and coming riders,” Ballestros said. “I had to be fair in the heights and distances of the course today, but it is still a grand prix track, so it needed to include several elements. I included a plank and a skinny jump but decided to do three double combinations instead of a triple combination to keep it challenging but not overwhelming.”
Eighteen top pairings, including international grand prix competitors Todd Minikus (USA) and Taylor Land, were set to contest Ballestros’ first-round course. Keach was the first to navigate the challenge and produce a clear round aboard Noble De La Chapelle. Two horses later, veteran rider Todd Minkus (USA) and his longtime partner Amex Z landed from the final obstacle fault-free to ensure there would be a jump-off round. Only Samantha Rice had joined Keach and Minikus as a contender for the top prize at the class’s halfway mark. As the arena was re-groomed and obstacles were adjusted for the short track, five pairings geared up for round two with Collin Reynolds (USA) piloting Chicco W into the group and Keach producing another leading round aboard his third mount, Fedor.
Ballestros’ short track proved more challenging for the returning competitors as each exhibitor seemed to encounter at least one unlucky obstacle. The final pair on course again, Keach used what he had learned of the course on his first mount and executed the winning round of the day. Keach galloped quickly across the ground but was careful to leave all rails in the cups to stop the clock at 38.084 seconds. His partner Fedor is a 17-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Urka van de Grundeval-Orkaan).
“I was really fortunate that I was at the end on this horse because I knew what I could do,” Keach said. “After riding the course on my first horse earlier and there being so few clears, I knew I could just execute the two tight turns I had planned and that would hopefully be enough.”
The week is the first at the venue for Keach and his Olympic partner, but he has high hopes for its place in the Florida show jumping circuit.
“Coming from Ocala where we have the World Equestrian Center, which is also amazing, this is an absolutely beautiful place,” added Keach. “It is very beautiful for the horses because there is a lot of grass, but it is also well-done for the people. The architecture is stunning, and the footing is good. This is a fantastic addition to show jumping in Florida.”
Falling just behind the leading time, Reynolds, of Oxford, Pennsylvania, and Chicco W rode to the second-place position with a time of 44.756 seconds. Reynolds and the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cabardino x Rio’s Ravissant-Rio Grande) were the only other pair to produce a double-clean effort across the tracks. Rounding out the morning’s victory gallop group was Minikus (USA) and Amex Z, the Bit By Bit Group’s 13-year-old Warmblood mare (Andiamo Z x Senne-Landaris).
Final Results – $50,000 TerraNova Grand Prix
1) Scott Keach (AUS) & Fedor – 0 / 0 – 38.084
2) Collin Reynolds (USA) & Chicco W – 0 / 0 – 44.756
3) Todd Minikus (USA) & Amex Z – 0 / 4 – 32.691
Source: Press Release from TerraNova Equestrian Center
Photos: © Jess Windhurst Photography