By Josh Tobin

Todd Minikus and Quality Girl made it a home triumph in last night’s $216,000 four-star Tryon Estates Grand Prix in North Carolina in which Richie Moloney was best placed of the Irish in fifth.

Only three combinations out of thirty starters qualified for the jump-off, all of them American. Marilyn Little had four faults in the decider with Clear Water, and Kristen Vanderveen  on Bull Run’s Testify had two down. It left the way open for Minikus to win it with a clear, and he got 13 year-old Quality Girl home faultlessly and posted the fastest time for good measure.

“When you enter the jump-off as the last pair and the other riders have had rails, you want to think it’s a luxury, but really, it’s the opposite. If you try and be too careful and have one down, you don’t place as well”, he said. “I wanted to go fast enough that if we did have one down I could still hit the gas pedal and be fast enough for the win.”

Richie Moloney rode Carrabis Z on whom he had delivered a clear round when Ireland won the Nations Cup at Wellington, Florida early in the year, but last night the pairing missed the jump-off with four faults. Their time was second fastest of the four-faulters behind New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley (Casper) and earned them a fifth place finish. Moloney had won Friday’s speed event at Tryon with Slieveanorra.

Kevin Babington was next best of the Irish last night, placing seventh and tenth with Mark Q and Shorapur respectively, both incurring four first round faults.