Alaska Freezes Out The Competition At The Washington International

Oct 23, 2009 - 10:00 PM

It’s been 19 long years since Todd Minikus topped the feature class at the Washington International Horse Show, but he captured another with Callie Seaman’s Alaska on Saturday night in the $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix CSI-W.

“I won this in 1990, when I was 11 years old, the youngest rider ever to win it,” joked Minikus. “I always enjoy it because of the history behind the class. The President’s Cup is one of the most prestigious grand prix, but any win is a good win.”

Guilherme Jorge’s 13-fence course proved tricky—numerous riders took down the same tall vertical headed into the stands, and only three out of the 29-horse field made the cut for the jump-off.

The first rider in the jump-off, Kate Levy on Lirving Du Volsin, owned by LA Horsepower and Levy, set the pace with a careful, clear round. Mario Deslauriers and Vicomte D, owned by Jane Clark, had a clean, quick round until they pulled the back rail on the last fence. That left the win for Minikus, Loxahatchee, Fla., and he shaved nearly 2 seconds off of Levy’s time to stop the clock at 34.55 seconds.

“Kate did it just right,” Minikus said of Levy’s jump-off ride. “I think I made the turn from one to two a little quicker, but otherwise I just tried to stay inside the footprints.”

Alaska, an 11-year-old Holsteiner, found success during a European tour this summer and topped the $75,000 ESP CSI** Grand Prix in Florida earlier in the year. The horse was originally imported from Ireland, and Minikus has had the ride since 2007.

“He’s a quality, careful horse,” Minikus said. “He has great technique, though not quite enough mileage at this point. But when he guesses, he usually comes up with the right answer.”

Levy, Wellington, Fla., felt thrilled to get a red ribbon on her still relatively green grand prix horse.

“I was really happy with the jump-off especially since it was my biggest grand prix with that horse,” Levy said. “My goal was to be as neat as possible and not take too many risks and have a rail down.”

Lirving Du Volsin, a French-bred horse, originally went to Levy to be sold. When no one bought him, she started riding him herself and discovered his natural ability.

“He has a huge heart,” Levy said. “He just wants to do it.”

Deslauriers, New York, N.Y., was obviously disappointed with having the last rail of the last fence down in the jump-off, especially since they had the same problem in their last two grand prix classes.

“I figure if we keep at it, our luck will come back,” said Deslauriers.

A Strong Performance Puts Schaefer On Top

Heading into the work-off of the Washington International Equitation Classic Finals, Sam Schaefer must have felt a nagging sense of déjà vu. 

Last week at the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals in Harrisburg, the judges called Schaefer back on top to test, but she ran into problems, and the title slipped through her fingers.

But during her trip to D.C., the 16-year-old kept her cool and put in a picture-perfect performance. Schaefer, Westminster, Md., drew Lucy Davis’ ride, Patrick, for the work-off, in which the top 10 riders swap mounts and repeat their jumper course.

“I thought it went really well,” Schaefer said. “I stayed pretty consistent through all three phases. I got lucky, and I got a nice horse to ride in the final phase.”

Schaefer, daughter of trainer Stacy Schaefer, has amassed a list of trainers who all pitched in to get her an equitation final blue.  She thanked the Heritage Farm team of Andrea Dignelli, Kirsten Coe and Patricia Griffith and long-time trainer Kim Stewart as well as Don Stewart.

Chase Boggio worked his way up the leaderboard, moving from third to fifth after the hunter phase and into second after the work-off with a lovely round on Molly Braswell’s ride, The General. A consistent performance by Tina DiLandri, LaJolla, Calif., gave her her second third-placed finish at an equitation final this season.

The three-phase final invited the country’s top 30 riders to compete over a hunter and jumper course, with open numerical scoring. There was plenty of jockeying for position in the standings, but Schaefer led the charge from start to finish.

But not all the riders walked away so elated. Taylor Ann Adams, Eads, Tenn., went into the jumper phase in second place, had a lovely round and then discovered after her ride that she had started her course before the bell rang, giving her no score.

Molly Braswell went into the work-off in second place but misjudged a fence on DiLandri’s Depardieu and had a stop at the seventh fence, so she finished in tenth.

Boggio’s second-placed finish comes on the heels of a fantastic season, including a win at the North American Equitation Championships at Capital Challenge (Md.) and a top-25 finish at the ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals (Ky.) this August. The 16-year-old rides with Bob Braswell and Christina Schlusemeyer.

The Washington International Horse Show wraps up tomorrow with the pony hunter action starting in the morning. For full results, visit www.wihs.org. 

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