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Minikus and Pavarotti Cruise to the Top of the Leaderboard of the 2008 Rolex/USEF National Championship presented by Equine Motorcoach

Minikus and Pavarotti Cruise to the Top of the Leaderboard of the 2008 Rolex/USEF National Championship presented by Equine Motorcoach

Release: December 06 2008

Wellington, FL – The 2008 Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship presented by Equine Motor Coach kicked off the Florida season in grand style at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL on Friday December 5. Under the lights in the International Ring, 43 horse and rider combinations including 2007 National Champions Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui went to task for the $40,000 Holiday & Horses Opener which served as the first of two legs of the National Championship.

Todd Minikus and Pavarotti were the best of the 29 American combinations in the running for the national title. With a lightning fast performance in the speed class where faults are converted into time they finished on a time of 69.11 as the third pair in the ring.

“I was disappointed that I had to go early especially with Marengo and Hillary coming right behind me and with 40 some entries – going third usually doesn’t hold up. Kent and Up Chiqui and probably a dozen horses in the class that could have been the winner. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (owned by Todd Minikus Ltd.) stands less than 16 hands but found serious airtime as he flew around the course. The Loxahatchee, FL rider liked the fact that he can utilize Pavarotti’s versatility.

“Anthony did a nice job of giving you inside or around options but if you did the inside option for the most part you had to do the add option in the lines,” said Minikus of the course. “Pavarotti has the ability, although he is very short has the ability of a very long stride. As far as a championship course it was good, it maybe could have been 1.50 m not 1.45m.”

Minikus was relieved he went fast enough for the win, because he knows there are places on the course where he could have gone even quicker.

“I made very tight turns but they weren’t forward riding tight turns but they were tidy,” she said.

Minikus and Pavarotti were .71 seconds fast than the pair that followed them as Hillary Dobbs and Marengo also blazed around Anthony D’Ambrosio’s course. Owned by the Dobbs Group, the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding jumped a brave round under the lights.

“I was really lucky,” said Dobbs. “It is always hard going early. The first two horses were big horses with big strides and mine is quicker. Todd did all the inside turns, I was debating which ones to do, so I made myself do them all for practice. My horse was amazing. I did some dicey angles… He’s always a brave horse and he was backed off just enough so he was super careful.”

Dobbs felt she could have gone faster but that she added strides in a couple of places where Minikus left them out.

“From the triple to the triple bar, I had such a sharp angle I had to do six after the triple bar and Todd did five.,” said Dobbs. “There were two or three places where I could or should have left out but didn’t.”

Dobbs, a 20-year-old student at Harvard University enjoys a distraction from school by coming to Florida even at the end of a long season.

“I don’t get sick of it,” said Dobbs who hasn’t had much of a break all year. “I just want to be at the horse shows and get better. It is also a nice break from school, especially during midterms.”

A Herculean effort has gone in to preparing the venue at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for the Final USEF Championship of 2008 and the 2009 show season. Organizer Mark Bellisimo and hundreds of staff worked around the clock to ensure that the stage was ready when the curtain was drawn.

The second and final leg of the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship gets underway Sunday afternoon when the riders take to the ring for the $60,000 Holiday and Horses World Cup Qualifier at 2 p.m.

For more information, please contact Joanie Morris at jmorris@usef.org. For complete results please see: www.equestriansport.com

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