Wilmington, Ohio – An international field of 17 horse-and-athlete pairs conquered the $15,000 Welcome Stake of Fall Classic 3 at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington. FEI Level IV course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) returned to the Standlee Sanctuary and designed a technical, winding track of related lines.
In the end, Rowan Willis (AUS) piloted another one of his top mares, Wellington Grey Goose (Corlensky x Grandira), to his second podium finish of the 2023 Fall Classic Series.
The elaborate track was no match for the duo as they boast an impressive list of international wins and placings together. Willis spoke highly of his willing mare, “She has been a great horse to me. I actually bred her with some friends of mine in England, so she has been my baby. She is really a super horse and has won me so much.”
Willis went first in the posted order with Cornet’s Girlensky and commented on his differing experiences with both of his horses in the class, “The combination away from home took a bit of riding. Once she [Wellington Grey Goose] jumped through there, I knew I was okay. The jump-off course suited me. It was quite open, and she is great a galloping. She also made a great turn back to the last. ‘Goose’ has more experience than Cornet’s Girlensky, so I am able to just ride a bit faster with her in the jump-off. Of course, it always helps to go at the end of the class when you know what you have to do.”
The 12-year-old Warmblood mare galloped around the track with a pleasant expression and made incredible efforts through the combinations. As the second-to-last to contest the class, a double-clear effort and time of 37.859 seconds secured the win. With the hopes of keeping the winning streak going, Willis will ride Wellington Grey Goose in Saturday’s $75,000 Grand Prix, “She is going to try and beat Carrots [Blue Movie]!”
Johan Kachelhoffer (RSA) held the lead for a majority of the class with his own Cooper B (Celestial x Korsika). Kachelhoffer guided the 10-year-old Bradenburg gelding to a clear and impressive time of 38.419 seconds, ultimately enough to earn second place.
Frequent WEC winner, Sam Pegg (CAN) sped to third place with his enthusiastic Gin Tonic 158 (Graf Top x Sanjador). Pegg set the pace as the first double-clear effort with the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding and ultimately rounded out the podium in 39.693 seconds.
$15,000 Welcome Stake Results:
1 Wellington Grey Goose, Rowan Willis, Rowan Willis | 0 | 37.859
2 Cooper B, Johan Kachelhoffer, Johan Kachelhoffer | 0 | 38.419
3 Gin Tonic 158, Sam Pegg, Ten Sixty Stables | 0 | 39.693
4 Ghana FS Z, Tiffany Hammack, Foxwood Farm | 0 | 39.951
5 Formidable Diamant, Sam Pegg, Phyllis Harlow | 0 | 40.45
6 Conreu, Ashley Miles, Ashley Miles | 0 | 40.73
7 Clear Concept, Asta Torokvei, Asta Torokvei | 0 | 43.222
8 Cornet’s Girlensky, Rowan Willis, Rowan Willis | 4 | 42.611
9 Billy McDermit, Hudson Warren, Hudson Warren | 4 | 44.093
10 Verdi O’Merveilles, Tiffany Hammack, Foxwood Farm | 4 | 48.693