Jan. 18—Wellington, Fla.
Ronan McGuigan moved to the United States from Ireland 12 years ago, but he’s just now beginning to make his mark on the grand prix scene. He was double clear and blazing fast aboard Capall Zidane to take the top check in the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix CSI**, the highlight event of Week 2 at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival.
Riders representing nine different countries showed under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center with Todd Minikus (USA) on Quality Girl and Nicholas Dello Joio (USA) aboard Carlos VHP Z placing second and third to McGuigan.
“This is the first time I’ve really had a chance to jump at this level,” said McGuigan, who has a farm in New Jersey and said the win was the biggest of his career so far. “Mostly I have been training clients, so I’m just having fun with him. I’ve got a few new, young horses coming up behind him, so hopefully next year they can help me out a little and take the pressure off him.”
McGuigan has been working with Capall Zidane, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, for five years. “I bought him at the Hendrix auction, and I actually never went to try him. I just bought him off a DVD. When I bought him, all of my Irish pals called him the ‘internet horse,’ but I had the last laugh tonight. He has been very consistent since I’ve had him,” McGuigan said.
Luc Musette of Belgium set the course for 44 entries, and nine clear rounds advanced to the jump-off. The fantastic crowd that braved the unusually cold Florida weather was treated to a thrilling show in the jump-off as the horses and riders raced against the clock.
Fifth to go in the second round, McGuigan and Capall Zidane completed the fastest track in 39.92 seconds, edging out Minikus and Quality Girl’s time of 40.15 seconds. A few rounds later, Dello Joio and Carlos VHP Z completed the third fastest time in 40.33 seconds.
McGuigan already has an early lead in the $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge standings after a very successful start to the circuit, and he added a few more points to that lead with Saturday night’s win.
Commenting on his jump-off round, McGuigan noted, “I was usually fighting most of the year here with Todd, so I knew I had to try and beat him. The turn back to the third jump I had to give him a little bit of time—it was tricky—but after that everything else you could gallop up to the jumps. He’s very careful, so the jump-off course kind of suited me.”
Of course Todd Minikus would have liked to win on Saturday night, but he was very happy with his rounds on Quality Girl and also celebrated McGuigan’s top finish.
“I’d like to congratulate Ronan; he has really done a great job with that horse,” Minikus stated. “I have watched that horse, his career since Ronan started with him, and Ronan has done a hell of a job with him.
“Going early in the jump-off, I was mostly worried about Ronan because last year, during the summer, Ronan really started clicking with that horse and it is lightning fast,” Minikus acknowledged. “Going in early you’ve got be a little conservative and I kind of got stuck in the corner rolling back to the black vertical. I did one or two extra strides there that I didn’t need to, but going early, that’s what you have to do sometimes. Luck of the Irish was clearly there tonight.”
Minikus explained that this was Quality Girl’s first week back to showing after a well deserved two months off. The mare won nine grand prix classes in the 2013 season and is back for more.
“She’s right back on track where she left off,” he affirmed. “I was a little bit concerned about how she would come back after that long break because she has proven that she does well when she’s in a continuation of showing, but it was all good. I’m pretty excited for the circuit.”
Dello Joio was showing Carlos V.H.P. Z for his previous owner, Emilie Martinsen, during last year’s FTI WEF circuit and is excited to now have control of the talented gelding’s career through his new Carlos Group ownership.
“We’re really excited to do what we want with the horse, pick and choose what’s best for our schedule,” Dello Joio stated. “We know the kind of quality he has. He has already previously won a five-star grand prix back in Europe, so he has quite a record. He’s an unbelievably careful horse and when he’s confident, I think there’s nothing he won’t jump. Tonight he was super, so I’m really excited.”
Final Results: $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix CSI**
1. CAPALL ZIDANE: 2004 KWPN gelding by Concorde x Baloubet du Rouet, RONAN MCGUIGAN (IRL), Ronan McGuigan: 0/0/39.92
2. QUALITY GIRL: 2003 Oldenburg mare by Quidam’s Rubin x Dobrock, TODD MINIKUS (USA), Quality Group: 0/0/40.15
3. CARLOS V.H.P Z: 2002 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Voltaire, NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO (USA), The Carlos Group: 0/0/40.33
4. CAFINO: 2003 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento 933 x Roderik 856, ALEXANDER ZETTERMAN (SWE), Alexander Zetterman: 0/0/40.50
5. ROCKY W: 1998 KWPN gelding by Libero H x Corofino, KAITLIN CAMPBELL (USA), Kaitlin Campbell: 0/0/40.52
6. TALOUBET: 2000 KWPN gelding by Baloubet Du Rouet x Quidam De Revel, PAULO SANTANA (BRA), Paulo Santana: 0/0/41.76
7. PIRONELLA: 2005 Canadian Warmblood mare by Non Stop x Pilot, KEEAN WHITE (CAN), Angelstone Partners: 0/4/42.12
8. FEROX B: 2005 BWP gelding by Quidam de Revel CSF x Contender, LORENZO DE LUCA (ITA), Mike Collins: 0/4/42.24
9.URICO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Zandor Z x Fedor, BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane F. Clark: 0/8/47.82
10. CASSINJA: 2005 Holsteiner mare by Cassini I x Caletto I, ALISON ROBITAILLE (USA), M/M Bertram Firestone: 1/72.45
11T. ZERNIKE K: 2004 KWPN gelding by Sam R 60 x H Topas, BRIANNE GOUTAL (USA), Remarkable Farms LP: 1/72.46
11T. HERACROSS: 2000 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Ramiro B x Clover Hill, PARIS SELLON (USA) Paris Sellon: 1/72.46