Todd Minikus (Lake Worth, FL) and Amex Z secured a double victory during Tryon Summer 1 at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), winning both the $75,000 Tryon Resort Grand Prix and the $25,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake. In Saturday’s Tryon Resort Grand Prix, Minikus and Amex Z stopped the jump-off timers at 35.096 seconds. Kristen VanderVeen (Wellington, FL) and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, a 2005 Belgian Warmblood stallion (Berlin x Darco) owned by Bull Run Jumpers Five LLC, took second place on a clear jump-off performance of 35.243 seconds, while Shane Sweetnam (Lexington, KY) and his own Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, a 2008 Belgian Warmblood mare (Casantos x Action-Breaker), claimed third-place honors in 36.262 seconds.

The first grand prix of the Tryon Summer Series welcomed 22 horse-and-rider pairs to the Tryon Stadium course designed by Oscar Soberon (Dallas, TX) with ten pairs returning for the jump-off.

Minikus praised the growth of Amex Z, a 2009 Zangersheide mare (Andiamo Z x Landaris) owned by Bit By Bit Group, saying, “I think she [Amex Z] has really matured. She’s been a little bit inconsistent, but she started to go really well at the end of the winter circuit. With a couple months of being off at home and training the old fashioned way, she really grew up.”

The course was a true speed test according to Minikus, who knew he had to push hard to beat third place’s VanderVeen who has a reputation for speed.

“It was a nice course. It was a super fast and competitive jump-off. The whole thing read speed, speed, and speed,” explained Minikus. “There were some super fast riders and horses. We had Kristen VanderVeen with ‘Frosty,’ who I like to call ‘White Lightning.’ He’s freaky fast. Going early in the jump-off, I thought maybe that would be a disadvantage, but we got lucky that the jumps came up just perfectly. Our time seemed to hold on through all of the sharpshooters who were coming after me!”

Minikus’ Welcome Stake win came from a 37.099 second jump-off performance, edging out Shane Sweetnam aboard Hunters Conlypso II, the 2008 Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I x Cous-Cous) owned by the Dacantos Group, on a time of 38.592 seconds. Third went to Rowan Willis (Ocala, FL), guiding his own and Lucinda Huddy’s Diablo VII, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Douglas x Lundy), through the jump-off in a time of 39.241 seconds. Canada’s Harold Chopping was 5th with Fantom.

David O’Brien and La Belle SCF Dominate $25,000 Sunday Classic

David O’Brien (Lexington, KY) and La Belle SCF separated themselves from the rest of the field in the $25,000 Sunday Classic hosted in Tryon Stadium, stopping the second-round timers in 33.17 seconds to grab an almost four-second lead. Aaron Vale (Williston, FL) and Chaccman, the 2006 Warmblood gelding (Chacco Blue x Panadena) owned by Thinks Like a Horse, finished on a time of 37.009 to claim second, while third and fourth place honors went to Ashley Fleishhacker (Wayzata MN), who rode Durango VDL to a time of 38.916 seconds for third aboard the 2008 Dutch Warmblood stallion (Zirocco Blue VDL x Narona) and also earned a time of 39.543 seconds riding Auckland de l’Enclos, a 2006 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Nagano x Peggyschnitt van Het Stal Hof), both owned by Ashland Show Stables LLC.

O’Brien and the homebred 2011 Belgian Warmblood mare (Diktator van de Boslandhoeve x Belle Bleu S) owned by Spy Coast Farm LLC had several speedy competitors behind them in the order-of-go, O’Brien explained, and he decided to make them work to catch up:

“I knew there were a few coming in behind me with quite a bit of speed, so I got a good shot to the first fence and knew if I could just keep the same pace pretty much all the way around, once I got down the lines with her massive stride, she could do the leave-out very easily and save some time there,” O’Brien explained.

“The course was inviting,” he noted, “and the course designers this week have built a lot of good courses for the horses, and it’s been pretty straightforward for them. So for my horse, the course suited her quite well today!” O’Brien said of Sunday’s track set by Oscar Soberon (Dallas, TX).

While O’Brien frequents the venue with his up-and-coming mounts, particularly in the Developing Jumper classes, La Belle SCF will have a few weeks off before returning to TIEC for FEI competition in the newly remodeled, fully-engineered Tryon Stadium, he shared.

“The footing is very good in Tryon Stadium. It’s great to have people with a lot of passion, who’ve invested a lot of time and effort into it, and that’s certainly the case for Bill Hawe [of iEquiTek, LLC.]. It’s great to see, and the horses seem quite happy with it,” O’Brien concluded.

Kristen VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Divine Fortune Grab $25,000 Wednesday Classic Win

Kristen VanderVeen (Wellington, FL) and Bull Run’s Divine Fortune stopped the jump-off timers in 28.08 seconds Wednesday in the International Stadium to claim the $25,000 Wednesday Classic at the start of Tryon Summer 1 competition with the Bull Run Jumpers Six LLC-owned 2009 Dutch Warmblood mare (Padinus x Amhilavsca Fortuna). Hayley Waters (Sparr, FL) and Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Waters’ Uppie de Lis, a 2001 Dutch Riding Horse (Andiamo Z x Lorraine). stopped the timers at 28.375 seconds to take second, while Todd Minikus and Amex Z earned third on a time of 28.928 seconds.

Jumper Highlights:

The Nutrena® 1.40m Open Jumper Division named two champions on the week: Jorge Ludwig (Newbury Park, CA) and his own mount The Graduate, and Aaron Vale (Williston, FL) aboard Lebron for Thinks Like a Horse. Vale also claimed reserve in the irons for Thinks Like a Horse aboard H5 Balou’s Captain.

Aidan Murphy (Reddick, FL) and Linda Murphy’s F. Kaboom bested the ProElite 1.10m Children’s Jumper Division, with Chase Finizio (Boca Raton, FL) riding Ad F16 to reserve for Ellie Beard.

Aaron Vale (Williston, FL) piloted Obi Wan to champion in the JTWG, Inc. 1.30m Open Jumper Division for Thinks Like a Horse, while Maryann Charles (Southern Pines, NC) and her own Call Me Maybe earned reserve.

Hunter Highlights:

The Main Street Insurance Large Junior Hunter Division congratulated Kat Fuqua (Atlanta, GA) and her own Grand Remo as champions on the week, awarding reserve champion honors to Madison Rauschenbach (Newburgh, NY) and Donald Stewart’s Mercy Me.

Rebecca Patterson (Malvern, PA) and her own Dia Caspar championed the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” Division, with Jordan Allen (West Bloomfield, MI) guiding her own Barbizon to reserve.

Julie Curtin (Woodstock, GA) and her own Point Being bested the Performance Hunter 3’6” Division, while Elizabeth Motion (Upperville, VA) and A Propos took reserve for JV-JV LLC.

The Tryon Summer Series continues with Tryon Summer 2 hosted June 17-21, 2020, featuring AA Hunter and Level 6 Jumper competition. Tryon International Equestrian Center competitions remain closed to the public, with live streaming for select classes available at

Click here to view all Tryon Summer 1 Division Champions.