The 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival concluded its eighth week of competition on Sunday with a win for Todd Minikus (USA) and Two Swans Farms’ Babalou 41 in the $150,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4*, presented by Lugano Diamonds. The pair led a 10 horse jump-off with a top three finish for the United States in this week’s final CSIO competition. Beezie Madden (USA) and Simon finished second, and Meagan Nusz (USA) and Dynamo placed third. Canada’s Jonathon Millar was sixth riding Calvin Klein.

Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) was the course designer for international competition in week eight. In Sunday’s CSIO 4* grand prix, D’Ambrosio saw 49 starters with ten clear rounds. The top three U.S. entries were the only ones to jump double clear over the short course.

Nusz and Amalaya Investments’ Dynamo were the first pair to go clear in round two and set the pace at 38.71 seconds, eventually placing third. Two rounds later, Minikus upped the leading time to 35.77 seconds with Babalou 41. Last to go, Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Simon stopped the clock in 37.47 seconds to move into second place. Andres Rodriguez (VEN) had the fastest four-fault round in the jump-off with Arao Enterprises’ Caballito to place fourth in 36.86 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z had the fastest round in 35.42 seconds, but dropped two rails along the way to finish eighth.

After jumping double clear rounds to lead the U.S. team to victory in Friday night’s $100,000 Nations Cup, presented by Kingsland Equestrian, Minikus and Babalou 41 continued their top form into Sunday afternoon. Minikus spoke about how the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I) was carefully brought along, competing in the schooling jumpers for a long time before stepping up to higher levels. The time and effort have paid off, and Babalou is showing more experience and maturity with every outing.

“That was a nice week. I would like to thank Lugano Diamonds for their support today, and I would like to thank Two Swans Farm and Purina,” Minikus acknowledged after Sunday’s win. “Quality Girl got the week off, and Babalou is starting to step up into the big leagues and she is doing a great job of it. I am very excited about her. I kind of took it easy with her at the beginning of the circuit and hopefully she can continue to be strong here at the end of the circuit. There are some bigger things coming, so I could not be happier. She has been fantastic.”
“She was too exuberant about her jump when she was younger, so we had to tone it down a little bit, which is usually not the story,” Minikus detailed on Babalou’s development. “She always was a little bit of a fractious mare, and she has really calmed down now. She was always nervous about everything – the surroundings, the tractor, the water truck, that kind of thing, so now she barely notices that kind of stuff, which is just maturity.”

$150,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4* presented by Lugano Diamonds
1. BABALOU 41: 2005 Oldenburg mare by Balou du Rouet x Silvio I
TODD MINIKUS (USA), Two Swans Farm: 0/0/35.77
2. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/37.47
3. DYNAMO: 2003 BWP gelding by Skippy II x Lys de Darmen
MEAGAN NUSZ (USA), Amalaya Investments: 0/0/38.71
4. CABALLITO: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Contendro x Argentinus
ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (VEN), Arao Enterprises LLC: 0/4/36.86
5. TINKABELL 12: 2005 KWPN mare by Casco x Ekstein
RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), Rodrigo Pessoa: 0/4/39.77
6. CALVIN KLEIN: 2004 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento x Feliciano
JONATHON MILLAR (CAN), Millar Brooke Farm Ltd: 0/4/42.44
7. URUS 2: 2005 Oldenburg gelding by Canturo x Cento
LJUBOV KOCHETOVA (RUS), Ljubov Kochetova: 0/4/42.99
8. HH CARLOS Z: 2002 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Voltaire
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm: 0/8/35.42
9. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/8/42.75
10. GAZELLE: 2006 Belgian Warmblood mare by Kashmir Van Shuttershof x Indoctro
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parksy: 0/14/59.81
11. ABUNOLA: 2005 KWPN mare by Numero Uno x Voltaire
LUIS PEDRO BIRABEN (ARG), Luis Pedro Biraben: 4/76.80
12. COLASKO: 2005 Oldenburg stallion by Coleman x Granus
NICOLAS PIZARRO (MEX), Monica Burillo Eguia Lis & Nicolas Pizarro: 4/77.50