"Uncle Sam" Todd Minikus wins $20,000 Gambler's Choice Costume class

Washington, DC, Oct. 27, 2011 – The 53rd Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) continued today with classes for jumpers. The International Open Jumpers had two classes, and Sarah Tredennick of Denver, CO, rode Vigaro to the win in the $31,000 International Open Jumper Jump-off class. Todd Minikus and Sweetheart wowed the crowd in their Uncle Sam costume and cleared the Georgetown Cupcake Joker fence to win the $20,000 International Open Jumper Gambler's Choice Costume class. Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers competed today as well. KC van Aarem and Mastermind won the Low division class, while Meagan Nusz and Banana d'Ive captured the High division win.

Tonight was the always popular "Barn Night," presented by Dover Saddlery, where local barns, teams, and groups celebrate equestrian sport with their barnmates, friends, and families. Breyer Animal Creations had a Stablesmates Painting booth. Contests such as Best Banner, Best Video, Best Barn Spirit, and Largest Group Contest were held for special prizes like a Kawasaki All-Terrain Vehicle courtesy of Gaithersburg Equipment Company, and gift certificates from Dover Saddlery. Additional thanks go to sponsor, Peterson Family Foundation, and media partners The Equiery and Virginia Horse Journal.

The WIHS continues through Sunday, October 30. The highlight classes of the week are the $25,000 Puissance sponsored by The Boeing Company on Friday, October 28, and the $100,000 President's Cup Grand Prix presented by Events DC, CSI 3*-W on Saturday, October 29. This week's jumper course designer is Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC.

There were 24 entries in today's $31,000 International Open Jumper jump-off class. Seven found the way to a clear round and advanced to the jump-off. Sarah Tredennick and Vigaro, owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Tredennick, were the fastest double clear for victory in 35.36 seconds. Nick Skelton (GBR) rode Beverley Widdowson's Carlo 273 to second place in 35.62 seconds, while Margie Engle (USA) and Indigo were third in 37.25 seconds.

Tredennick and Vigaro, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by No Limit, have been showing together for three years. Tredennick has brought Vigaro through the ranks and last year they "broke the 1.60m barrier." Tredennick said, "He's wonderful and getting better and better. He's young still. We came back down to the 1.30m all winter and then jumped back into the open division at Harrisburg and hoped for the best. He's just rising to the occasion and doing so well."

Vigaro and Sarah Tredennick

Twenty-one-year-old Tredennick hasn't competed at the WIHS for four years; she showed pony and junior hunters as a junior. After graduating the University of Denver this spring, the amateur rider has plans to turn pro at the end of the year. This is her first year showing in the jumpers at Washington, and she said of her ride, "The course was nice. I was taken aback a little bit by how different it is to ride in that ring because you have to bounce off the corners and really stick to one decision. It worked out well for me. I wanted to go double clear. I knew I was going to go for it. You might as well when you get to that point, but I had no anticipation of winning. But this was unexpected, pleasantly."

For her win today, Tredennick was presented with the Ben O'Meara Memorial Challenge Trophy.

The $20,000 Gambler's Choice Costume class is always a crowd favorite at the WIHS. Garnering the most points in the class was Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL, riding Sweetheart, owned by Windsor Show Stables, who had a total of 1190 points. "Avatar" Saer Coulter finished second with Copernicus Stables' Julia Des Brumes with 1160 points, while "Skeleton" Nick Skelton and Unique, owned by Beverley Widdowson, were third with 1110 points.

Minikus was presented with the Crown Royal Trophy donated by Crown Royal, while Sweetheart, a 12-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding by Heartbreaker, won the Sue Ann Geisler Memorial Trophy donated by the Washington International Horse Show.

Photo - top left: Sweetheart and Todd Minikus in front of the Georgetown Cupcakes Joker Fence

When asked about his costume, Minikus said, "Caroline, Sweetheart's 'nanny' picked my costume. She was saying that Uncle Sam had to win in the Capital."
He said of the gambler's choice format, "It's fun for the crowd and people that don't get to come to a lot of horse shows. That's what is nice about indoors and some of the shows here is that people get to be a little bit closer to the action and it is not the same old cookie cutter horse show. There is stuff that people can participate in and Barn Night here at Washington and the costume class all kind of fit together nicely."

In the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers sponsored by North Star, KC van Aarem of Woodbine, MD, and Mastermind took the top prize. They were the fastest double clear in a jump-off of eight entries in a class of 22. They crossed the timers in 29.318 seconds after a fast rollback to the final oxer. Michael Hughes and Drumnacross Farm Ltd's Red Hot were second in 29.959 seconds. Samantha Schaefer and Sugar Ray were third in 30.347 seconds.

Van Aarem was presented with the Beagle Brook Farm Perpetual Trophy donated by Beagle Brook Farm.


KC Van Aarem and Mastermind

Van Aarem (16) currently lives in Florida and trains with Aaron Vale and Dale Mills. She has ridden Mastermind, a nine-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding, for three years. Mastermind was a hunter before Van Aarem purchased him with thoughts of turning him into an equitation horse.

"He's the best horse ever. We started out in Low Children's Jumpers and I fell off every day!" Van Aarem laughed. "He really knows when it's time to go in there and win. My job is just to stay on! He's sharp at the jumps. All you have to do is get him to it and he knows his job."

Coming into the jump-off, Van Aarem wasn't sure if her time would be fast enough. "I honestly thought I was going really slow. We stumbled, and I thought, 'Oh no, I've got to make up the time.' To the last jump, I was really booking it," she said.

She continued, "We qualified for the Low (division), but I just started doing the Highs over the summer. We won a classic at Roanoke. I was so nervous, especially since everyone out there was so good. It was great competition. This means a ton (to win here)."

The High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers showed in a $5,000 class tonight, sponsored by AAA Equestrians, LLC. With 21 entries to start, only three were able to clear the course without fault. Megan Nusz and TNT Equine Partners' Banana D'Ive Z completed the only clear jump-off round in a time of 31.942 seconds to earn top honors.

Charlotte Jacobs finished with four faults in 29.127 seconds aboard Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables' Promised Land to place second. Genevieve Zock and Olinda had two rails in the jump-off to finish with eight faults in 31.812 seconds in third.

Following their winning round, Megan Nusz and Banana D'Ive Z were presented with The "Footloose" Perpetual Trophy donated by The Curtin Family in honor of the 1990 winner Footloose, ridden by Caroline Curtin, and in remembrance of Ruth Ellen Wilmot.

Nusz is a 24-year-old rider from The Woodlands, TX, and trains with grand prix show jumper Kent Farrington. Farrington is currently in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he helped USA earn team gold at the 2011 Pan American Games today. With the help of her barn manager, Nusz was proud to earn a victory this evening with Farrington's teachings in mind.

Last to go in the jump-off, all Nusz and "Banana" had to do was go clear when the other two riders had faults. Banana D'Ive Z is a ten-year-old Zangersheide mare by Rodrigo Pessoa's famous mount Baloubet Du Rouet. Nusz saw the mare competing in Europe last year and "fell in love."

"We have been an amazing team," the rider smiled. "She is my ideal type. A lot of people don't like the hot, go at the jump kind of mount, but I love her. She is super straight forward, she is quick, she knows her job and she is careful. Every time I go in the ring all I have to worry about is doing my job and she takes care of the rest."


Banana d'Ive Z and Meagan Nusz

This is Nusz's first time competing at the WIHS and she is excited for the bigger classes this weekend. "This show is definitely like nothing I have ever seen before," she declared. "The schooling ring is a little challenging, but my horse jumped super in the ring, so I couldn't be happier. This is one of the best horse shows in the country and it is an honor to be here. Just to qualify to come here with all of these amateurs and juniors is a big deal to me."

Commenting on her future plans, Nusz stated, "I just go day by day. I like being on top; I like winning. I have a lot more horses at home that hopefully will come next year. I just started riding with Kent the same time I got Banana, so we are just trying to build the team."

The Washington International Horse Show continues tomorrow with the championships for the junior hunter divisions as well as the hunter phase for the WIHS Equitation Classic Finals. The low and high junior/amateur-owner jumpers will have speed classes in the afternoon session, while the International Open Jumpers have a $10,000 1.40m faults converted class.

The evening session begins with a $31,000 International Open Jumper 1.50m faults converted class, followed by terrier races and a driving exhibition by World Equestrian Games silver medalist Chester Weber. The night closes with the electrifying $25,000 Puissance sponsored by The Boeing Company.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Wood Media and Shwwn McMillen Photography.