Todd Minikus and Amex Z Capture $72,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 4* at TIEC

Jun 6, 2019 - 8:11 PM

Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante Dominate $6,000 1.40m Power & Speed Stake CSI 4*

Holly Shepherd and High Society Named High Performance Hunter 4′ Division Champions

Trip of the Day Winners Honored Daily During Tryon Spring 6 TR&HC Charity Horse Show

For Immediate Release

Mill Spring, NC – June 6, 2019 – 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.


446_1286Todd Minikus and Amex Z

“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.”


446_1189Aaron Vale and Finou 4

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.”


446_1259Sharn Wordley and Casper

Minikus elaborated that part of his success with the mare at TIEC has come from learning how to set her up for success in the venue’s environment. “She’s a little funny in the schooling area and in the traffic. And this schooling area is unique with the people standing above her. So we do wear blinkers on her in the schooling area – it’s just calming for her and helps her concentrate as we are warming up,” Minikus stated.


446_1298Todd Minikus, Horseware sponsored rider, and Amex Z in their presentation ceremony alongside Steve Rector, Ringmaster.

After receiving her honors and leading the victory gallop, Amex Z was led back to the barn in a rope halter. “We lead a lot of our horses in rope halters,” Minikus revealed. “They behave in them, and it is not as aggressive as a chain over the nose. We like to think we are practicing better horsemanship, even when she gets to be a handful sometimes.”

The winning duo plans to return to Tryon Stadium this Saturday under the lights for the $204,000 Coca-Cola Grand Prix CSI4*, which will kick off at 8pm. After finishing out the week, Minikus plans to remain at TIEC and work with some of the younger horses. “We will show at the national shows here and get some miles for them, and then we will fire back up for the [FEI] summer shows.”


Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante Dominate $6,000 1.40m Power & Speed Stake CSI 4* at TIEC

Kelli Cruciotti (USA) and Zidante cruised around Wednesday’s $6,000 1.40m Power & Speed Stake CSI 4* to open FEI competition at Tryon Spring 6 TR&HC Charity Horse Show, stopping the speed portion timers at 29.579 seconds. Savannah Jenkins (USA) and Quitana 11, a 2006 Holsteiner mare (Quick Star x Lucky Lionell) owned by Georgy Sarah Maskrey-Segesman, claimed second on a speed phase time of 30.178 seconds, while Pablo Barrios (VEN) and Le Vio, his own 2009 Hanoverian gelding (Van Gogh x Drosselklang II), cleared the speed test in 30.66 seconds to take third.


446_0586Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante

Cruciotti and the 2004 Dutch Warmblood mare (Cantos x Herannus) owned by Serenity Farm have been paired for six years, competing together in the Junior Jumpers. “I’ve pretty much done everything with her. She has a heart of gold,” Cruciotti explained. “She tries so hard for me in every class. She loves to compete, and I think she wants to win more than I do, so she just loves it. She’s just an amazing horse.

“I loved the course,” Cruciotti said of the Kelvin Bywater (GBR) design. “This was my first time ever showing here. The ring felt great, and the horses jumped awesome. I’m looking forward to a great week.”


446_0680Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante in their presentation ceremony alongside Steve Rector, Ringmaster.

Despite a speedy performance to take the win, “I actually just wanted to have a nice, efficient round,” Cruciotti admitted. “I wasn’t thinking about going super fast. My main goal with her this week is actually for Sunday in the $36,000 1.45m Sunday Classic CSI 4*. She’s so naturally fast and she has her own rhythm, so it’s not hard to go fast. I just kind of have to let her go.

“This year has probably been one of her best years,” Cruciotti continued. “She won a 5* class in Wellington, she just last week won a 4* Speed Stake at Devon. She’s 15 years old, and she’s finding her stride now. I’m really proud of her.”

Holly Shepherd and High Society Named High Performance Hunter 4′ Division Champions

Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, AL, and High Society, owned by Mary Antonini, were crowned champion of the High Performance Hunter 4′ Division on Thursday during the Tryon Spring 6 Tryon Riding & Hunt Club Charity Horse Show. Reserve champion honors were awarded to Dana Vollbracht’s entry, Five Star, with Amberlee Wentz (Colorado Springs, CO) in the irons.


446_0859Holly Shepherd and High Society


Shepherd explained that High Society has been a member of her program for about a year and has been doing very well. “High Society is one of my Derby horses, and he has been amazing,” Shepherd shared. “This year alone, he’s won two International Derbies. He’s super fun to ride. He’s awesome, scopey, and an amazing jumper. He’s a very cool horse.”

Shepherd attributes High Society’s success to his presence and attitude: “His grace, speed and his rhythm are so fluid and he jumps so high, but never freaky. He’s just a good trier, and he’s ultra-brave. He feels like a real performance horse and he knows when it’s time. He comes to the party really well.”

On Wednesday, Shepherd collected the Trip of The Day Award for receiving the highest score of the day across all Hunter rings, riding Ashley Runnels’ As You Wish, and she shared that “the facility here is amazing, and I’m really happy that we have so much area to ride in. There’s more than enough room for the horses to prepare themselves, and the people have been really nice here. This week in particular, I love the new sponsored ‘Trip of the Day’ for the high score of the day with the $500 check. I think that’s super awesome and it makes people really shoot for something.”

Shepherd and High Society hope to continue their successful week with Friday’s $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, but Shepherd shared that their sights are set on Derby Finals later this season, she concluded. “We’re rocking and rolling and going to try to take that [Derby Finals] over this year. He’s been once before, so it won’t be his first time, but he’s also for sale. So, you never know what will happen.”

Trip of the Day Winners Honored Daily During Tryon Spring 6 TR&HC Charity Horse Show

Each day throughout Tryon Spring 6 TR&HC Charity Horse Show competition, the rider with the highest-scoring Hunter round at TIEC will receive a $500 prize and special commemorative ribbon thanks to generous daily sponsors. Learn more about the Wednesday and Thursday Trip of the Day winners below.

Wednesday, June 5

Holly Shepherd (Grand Bay, AL) and As You Wish, owned by Ashley Runnels, scored a pair of 87s in the Green Hunter 3’3″ classes Wednesday to claim the Trip of the Day prize, presented by Tryon Equestrian Partners Roger and Jennifer Smith.
Note: The initial version of this release incorrectly noted Holly Shepherd winning Trip of the Day aboard High Society. Congratulations to Holly and As You Wish!


IMG_9980Holly Shepherd and As You Wish alongside Steve Rector, Ringmaster, and Jennifer Smith.

Thursday, June 6

Hunter Kay (Charlotte, NC) and Hobcaw Creek, owned by Ann Rice Ervin, scored a 90 in their USHJA Hunter 3′ Class to receive Thursday’s Trip of the Day prize, provided by Randi Goulding and Kelly Bandelow.


fullsizeoutput_1d89Hunter Kay and Hobcaw Creek alongside Randi Goulding and Kelly Bandelow.

For full results from the $6,000 1.40m Power & Speed Stake CSI 4*, click here.

For full results from the $72,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 4*, click here.

For full results from the High Performance 4′ Division, click here.

Tryon Spring 6 TR&HC Charity Horse Show continues through Sunday, June 9, and features a $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Friday at 4:30pm, preceded by a free course walk with Liza Boyd and Jack Towell at 3:30pm, and the $204,000 Coca-Cola Grand Prix CSI 4* Saturday, June 8, at 8pm, both hosted in Tryon Stadium. To learn more, visit

Photo credit ©Sportfot unless otherwise noted. These photos may only be used once in relation to this press release with proper credit.


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