Wilmington, Ohio – An impressive field of world-renowned show jumping athletes took center stage at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington for the first $50,000 Grand Prix of the 2023 Fall Classic Series. Robert Barton (USA) designed the challenging tracks for 22 horse-and-athlete combinations to put their rideability and athleticism to the test. In the end, it was Rowan Willis (AUS) and his own Blue Movie (Chacco-Blue x Showtime) that jumped the only double-clear effort to take the victory.
Willis returned to WEC – Wilmington for his second time and was happy to be back in the ring, “We have all been off for a while now actually. Both horses and me. This is a great show to come back and start again. It was a nice course set today with good footing and good jumps. It felt really good to get back in the ring. We are going to jump here in Ohio for a few weeks definitely!”
Only five horses returned for the jump-off phase, all just shy of clear efforts. As the final pair to enter the arena, Willis needed to leave all the jumps intact to take home the win.
The longtime partners made light work of the track and jumped an effortless double-clear in 37.641 seconds to claim the first grand prix win of the 2023 Fall Classic Series.
Blue Movie, a fiery 17-year-old AES mare, has earned a stellar reputation in the industry competing all over the world with Willis in the irons. The duo has a long list of CSI4* and CSI5* placings and wins, including a top twelve finish at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games.
“She has been the horse of a lifetime for me. She jumped the summer at Spruce Meadows and unfortunately had a small injury, so she wasn’t able to jump the Masters. This is her first show back and it is always good to have her at the show! It was a good comeback for her today,” Willis commented on his super-mare.
Kady Abrahamson (USA) of Georgetown, Kentucky, continued her podium streak with her 15-year-old Holsteiner mare, Any (Aljano x Nina XI), also known as the ‘Queen of Abrahamson Equestrian LLC’. With a heartbreaking rail at the final fence, Abrahamson landed through the timers with four faults in 32.775 seconds for second place.
Devin Milan (USA) guided Garo Kazan’s Conquest (Colestus x Excellenta C) to a confident ride in his first ever 1.45m class. The pair jumped flawlessly around the first-round track and returned to the jump-off where they added four faults to their score in the delicate one-stride. A time of 32.851 seconds was enough to earn third place.
$50,000 Grand Prix Results:
1 Blue Movie, Rowan Willis, Rowan Willis | 0 | 37.641
2 Any, Kady Abrahamson, Abrahamson Equestrian LLC | 4 | 32.775
3 Conquest, Devin Milan, Garo Kazan | 4 | 32.851
4 Billy Guilder, Rowan Willis, Rowan Willis | 4 | 37.809
5 Canterella Van De Hogeborg Z, Lauren Hester, Hester Equestrian LLC | 4 | 38.508
6 Vincent, Richard Rinehart, Ron Caraway | 8 | 50.465
7 Rustica Ls La Silla, Vincente Guillen, Tranquility Farm | 4 |82.531
8 Manhattan Van T Leeuwerikenhof, Filip De Wandel, Fiveawayfarm LLC | 4 | 84.136
9 Jamiroquai, Natalie Thornell, Loveland Equine Investments | 4 | 86.575
10 Joberlina VG, Natalie Thornell, Loveland Equine Investments | 4 | 86.877
Devin Milan & Karlina T Rise to Challenge in the $10,000 Futures Prix
Show jumping action in the Standlee Sanctuary began with a field of 19 horse-and-athlete combinations competing for the win in the $10,000 Futures Prix. Barton crafted the tracks that proved technical for the class, with only two riders posting double-clear efforts.
Ultimately, it was Devin Milan (USA) that rose to the challenge aboard Garo Kazan’s Karlina T (Cabrio Van De Heffinck x Goberlina T). Entering the arena toward the bottom of the order, a double clear-effort was enough to secure a podium finish.
Milan rode every step of the course strategically and executed the perfect winning plan, “The one-stride in the corner was the first thing that I knew I needed to plan out. I saw two people get short up in nine-strides, so I wanted to land and bring my horse back right away. I wanted to be able to attack the nine just in case she backed off, so I still had power. The past two jump-offs that I have done with her I have had the in of the one strides down because I was cutting the turns to make up for time. I realized that she naturally so quick, so I made sure that I got straight to protect the rail.”
Milan has brought along the eight-year-old KWPN mare ever since her five-year-old year and has found great success in the featured classes at WEC – Ohio.
After adding another grand success to their record together with a blazing fast jump-off time of 33.976 seconds, Milan reflected on the rewarding aspect of equestrian sport, “It is so rewarding, especially when the horses do well, and we notice that they are making improvements. It is something that I am super proud of. We didn’t buy made horses; we didn’t buy something thinking it had spectacular talent. We bought these horses because we could afford them and then we made them into what we wanted them to be.”
Gustavo Prato (ARG) piloted Romy Lauer’s Jodokus to the first double-clear effort of the class. The experienced professional made his first debut in Wilmington one to remember with the nine-year-old KWPN gelding. The duo jumped two smooth, confident rounds for a second-place jump-off time of 34.711 seconds.
Vicente Guillen (VEN) landed third, fourth and fifth place with all three of his entered mounts. Guillen found his spot on the podium with Tranquility Farm’s Evolene De Carles (Kannan). The nine-year-old Selle Francais mare stopped the timers in 32.97 seconds with one unfortunate rail to land in third place.
$10,000 Futures Prix Results:
1 Karlina T, Devin Milan, Garo Kazan | 0 | 33.976
2 Jodokus, Gustavo J. Prato, Romy Lauer | 0 | 34.711
3 Evolene De Carles, Vicente Guillen, Tranquility Farm | 4 | 32.97
4 Chacera, Vicente Guillen, Vicente Guillen | 4 | 33.346
5 Caribi, Vicente Guillen, Tranquility Farm | 4 | 34.032
6 Chaccomo 11, Drew Arnold, Theresa Kraft | 4 | 34.232
7 Dario S, Richard Rinehart, Richard Rinehart | 4 | 38.195
8 Catoki’s Son Z, Savannah Embly, Embly Stables LLC | 8 | 32.077
9 La Belle Coral HX, Lauren Hester, Hester Equestrian LLC | 4 | 73.342
10 Captain America 10, Luke Rinehart, Catherine Rinehart | 73.746
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Results can be found at wec.net.
All horse show images are provided by Winslow Photography and can be purchased onsite at WEC – Wilmington or online through their website.