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Equidry Wins Outback/Sidelines Equestrian Triathlon®

WELLINGTON, FLORIDA - December 28, 2003 - Show jumper Todd Minikus, dressage rider Shawna Harding, and polo player Gabriel Crespo playing as Team Equidry Distributions, LLC won the fourth annual Outback/Sidelines Equestrian Triathlon in the Internationale Arena at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, in Wellington, FL, on Saturday, December 27. After three phases of competition the trio scored a total of 275 points to earn the Gold Medal.

"As it is every year, it was extremely enjoyable," said Todd Minikus, a three-time participant. "It really gets the horse community together." The winning team held five practice sessions together to prepare for the event. Gabriel Crespo said, "We respect each other. We found out how difficult the other one's sport is." Shawna Harding said it was exciting to be teamed with world-class riders Todd and Gabriel. "We tried so hard - it was lots of fun and for a great charity."

In second place were show jumper Jimmy Torano, dressage rider Ruth Hogan-Poulsen, and polo player Mike Azzaro playing as Team Denim & Diamonds who finished with a total of 200 points for the Silver Medal.

Third place finishers were show jumper Nona Garson, dressage rider Bent Jensen, and polo player Martin Estrada teamed up as RV Sales of Broward who scored 150 points for the Bronze Medal.

In fourth place were eventer Marcia Kulak, dressage rider Lynda Alicki, and polo player Luis Escobar playing as International Polo Club Palm Beach who scored 125 points for the Pewter Medal.

The Outback/Sidelines Equestrian Triathlon was presented by Village Animal Clinic and benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Southern Florida. VIP tables in the Jockey Club were sold out and fans surrounded the arena in the tent and berm seating for the four-hour competition. Spectators also enjoyed a Silent Auction, Children's Fair, vendor shopping, and the opening parade. Ninth grade students from G-STAR School of the Arts For Motion Pictures and Television headed up by Los Angeles-based producer/director Richard Brooker of Equus Productions and videotaped the competition. Coverage will air on The G-STAR TV Show on PBS on WXEL Channel 42 in January.

The teams competed against each other in three phases - a USDF Second Level Dressage Test ridden to music, a Gambler's Choice jump course, and four chukkers of polo. Part of the fun of the Triathlon was watching top riders demonstrate their skills in disciplines not their own - the polo players and jumpers rode the dressage test, and the dressage riders and polo players jumped the course; all the riders played polo, but only the dressage riders and jumpers were allowed to score. Points were awarded at each phase.

Betsy Steiner and Bill Warren judged the dressage rides. Equidry earned a team average of 68.35% to win the dressage phase and 100 points. RV Sales of Broward's percentages added up to 65.06% for second place and 75 points. International Polo Club Palm Beach earned 62.69% for third and 50 points. And the Denim & Diamonds Team took fourth place with 57.62%, which gave them 25 points.

The highest individual score for the dressage phase went to Todd Minikus who earned 69.86%. Marcia Kulack was right behind him earning 69.47%. Nona Garson scored 68.02%. Jimmy Torano earned 63.45%. Minikus wore a top hat and a huge smile throughout his test, riding to "Play That Funky Music" and "Brick House."

In the jumper phase, riders were allowed to choose their own course over a series of jumps, with each one counting from between 10 and 80 points. Time allowed was 60 seconds. After the buzzer the riders had the option of jumping the joker fence - the Sidelines vertical. If they were clear it was an added 200 points, but a knockdown cost them 200 points.

Denim & Diamonds won the jumping phase and earned 100 points. Equidry placed second, earning 75 points. International Polo Club Palm Beach placed third for 50 points. RV Sales of Broward placed fourth for 25 points.

Individually in the jumping phase, Ruth Hogan-Poulsen placed first racking up 820 points; her Denim & Diamonds teammate Mike Azzaro was second with 800 points; Gabriel Crespo of Equidry was third with 730 points; and his teammate Shawna Harding was fourth with 650 points

Going into the polo phase it was still anybody's Triathlon - Equidry was leading with 175 points. Denim & Diamonds was in second place with 125; and RV Sales of Broward and International Polo Club Palm Beach were tied for third with 100 points each.

The polo chukkers were played 'arena style' - that is, in a smaller area than a regulation size polo field, in this case the lower one-third of the Internationale Arena, using an arena ball, which is about the size of a grapefruit.

In the first chukker Jimmy Torano scored two goals while Lynda Alicki was the only one to put one on the board for her team, giving Denim & Diamonds the win over International Polo Club Palm Beach, 2-1. In the second chukker Shawna Harding scored two goals, as did her teammate Todd Minikus, while Bent Jensen scored his team's two goals, giving Equidry the win over RV Sales of Broward, 4-1. To determine first place, the two winning teams took to the field and battled it out in a third chukker. Todd scored four goals and Shawna put one through the pylons while Ruth Hogan-Poulsen managed the only goal for her team, giving Equidry the win over Denim & Diamonds, 5-1. The victory earned Equidry 100 points, for a total of 275 and the Gold Medal. The second place finish gave Denim & Diamonds another 75 points for a total of 200 and the Silver Medal.

The other two teams played a fourth chukker to determine third and fourth place. They played into over-time, but remained scoreless on both sides, forcing a 'shoot-out'. Lynda Alicki missed her shot, but Bent Jensen's was on target, settling the placings in the polo phase with RV Sales of Broward taking third for 50 points, and International Polo Club of Palm Beach placing fourth for 25 points. In the overall standings, RV Sales earned 150 points for the Bronze Medal. International Polo Club of Palm Beach finished with 125 points and the Pewter Medal.

In the ceremony following the competition, team medals and awards were presented. Best Playing Polo Pony went to Gabriella owned by Gabriel Crespo. Best Dressage Horse was awarded to Sunnyside owned by Town & Country. Best Jumper went to Penny owned by Jimmy Torano. A Most Valuable Player award was given to one member of each of the disciplines represented. Luis Escobar won the MVP award for polo player -- he had never ridden a dressage test or jumped a fence before today's competition! Ruth Hogan-Poulsen won the MVP award for dressage rider - she earned the high score in jumping and was the only participant to fall - in the polo match. And Marcia Kulak was awarded MVP for jumpers - she agreed to participate at 6pm Friday night when another rider was unable to compete.

Organizer Samantha Charles, publisher of Sidelines, deemed the event a success for the riders, spectators and the charity. "Isn't this just great!" she remarked as fans whistled and cheered right to the final outcome of the event.


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