Saugerties, New York – August 05, 2023 – Saturday morning’s $145,500 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix CSI 3* brought a sizable crowd to the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium at Hits Saugerties to watch over 30 horse and rider combinations attempt to master the 13-fence course. Eventually, it was Todd Minikus (USA) who piloted his mount Amex Z to the top of a six-horse jump-off, marking a special victory for the two-time bronze medal-winning U.S. Pan American Team rider.
“I’ve been an ambassador for Purina since 2000,” Minikus explained after his win. “It’s always important to me to do well in the Purina-sponsored class. It couldn’t have worked out more perfect. And now [Amex Z] got a nice check so she can afford to get more Purina!”
Jaime Morillo set a demanding first-round course that forced riders to ride thoughtfully throughout the track, which featured a triple-bar oxer at jump five followed by a triple combination, as well as numerous oxers, several rollbacks, and a few wide turns that utilized the expansive arena. Many riders who made it clear through the triple combination had trouble late in the course, leaving in defeat after most knocked rails right before the finish line. Only six pairs advanced to the tiebreaker, with Todd Minikus and Amex Z being the second-to-last to qualify, which he used to his advantage.
“With [Beezie Madden] going right in front of me and the young lady [Grace Debney] laying down a very nice round, I was opting for the inside turn after the wall,” explained Minikus. “When I saw Grace go around, I thought maybe I could just go a little faster around and not risk the inside turn. So, it worked out well.”
After the first two riders finished with 4-faults in each of their respective rounds, Grace Debney (GBR) went on to put in the first clean effort in the second round. She and Jesprit H.S. broke the beam in a speedy 41.23 seconds, which would eventually hold up for second place.
Minikus and Amex Z competed two rounds later and were quick on their feet, putting the pedal to the metal and besting Debney and Jesprit H.S’s time by nearly half a second in a time of 40.74 seconds.
Carly Anthony (USA) and Heavenly W were the last to go in the jump-off, and while they tried to chase Minikus and Amex Z’s time, their attempt of 42.37 seconds would slide them right into the third-place spot.
“[Amex Z] is kind of a hot-blooded, hot-tempered mare,” concluded Minikus. “Most of the time you’re coaxing her around and trying to get her to relax – and if you can do that, then she usually jumps very well. Today, she was very obedient, and I couldn’t ask for her to go better. I’ve always been a fan of HITS – they have always been very good to me throughout the years with the million-dollar grand prixs. With the improvements now, it’s absolutely fantastic. That’ll make this the show Palace of the Northeast, that’s for sure.”
The New York Horse and Pony Show will conclude Sunday, August 6, and Saturday’s grand prix marked the conclusion of the Hudson Valley Jumping Tour at HITS Saugerties. Hunter/jumper action will resume on August 30 with HITS-on-the-Hudson VII, the first week of the Fall Series, followed by the 2023 HITS Championship. For more information about the HITS Saugerties Series, visit www.hitsshows.com.
Final Results – $145,500 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix CSI 3*
1) Todd Minikus (USA) & Amex Z – 0 / 0 – 40.74
2) Grace Debney (GBR) & Jesprit H.S – 0 / 0 – 41.23
3) Carly Anthony (USA) & Heavenly W – 0 / 0 – 42.37
Source: Press Release from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography