Todd Minikus (USA) and Amex Z came out on top in the $72,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 4* at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), stopping the jump-off clock at 36.242 seconds to claim their second consecutive FEI victory. Aaron Vale (USA) and Finou 4, a 2006 Hanoverian gelding (Flashlight 16 x Concetto Famos) owned by Thinks Like A Horse and Donald E. Stewart, stopped the jump-off timers at 38.149 seconds to secure the pair a second place finish, while third place was awarded to Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Casper, a 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contender x Baloubet Du Rouet) owned by Sky Group, with a jump-off time of 38.902 seconds.
Course Designer Kelvin Bywater (GBR) had 46 entries test the course, with eight pairs returning for the jump-off round. Minikus and the 2009 Zangersheide mare (Andiamo Z x Landaris), owned by Bit By Bit Group, were proud to be representing Horseware on their saddle pad as the pair received the top honors, Minikus expressed.
"In the first round, Amex jumped really nice. She won last Sunday's Classic and that was the last time she was in the ring. I ran her pretty hard in that jump-off, and I did not know if that was going to have her a little undone or not," Minikus explained. "She rode beautifully in the first round today and then she was spot on in the jump-off. I couldn't be more proud of her."
Minikus followed Vale in the jump-off, and was able to take advantage of following behind the seasoned competitor, he noted. "Typical Aaron was lightning fast. Aaron Vale and I were brought up in the same path of horsemen through our years. So today, I was a little older and wiser, I'll say," Minikus added.
"I got to go after him [Vale] and that's always a big deal to be able to follow him, instead of trying to set the pace," Minikus said. "His horse [Finou 4] tried really hard at the blue oxer before the combination. He had to reorganize before the combination. I got lucky to find the flowing one [stride] to the combination and I think that was the difference."