Traverse City, Michigan, USA – August 04, 2022 – Rowan Willis (AUS) arrived in Traverse City just a few hours before the course walk for the $138,600 Premier Equestrian CSI 5* 1.50m during week five of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. He adjusted quickly, and with his longtime partner Blue Movie, secured the win in a 12-horse jump-off.
“I’m lucky that I’m on a naturally very fast horse,” Willis said of the Anglo-European mare (Chacco-Blue x Pilot). “It really suited ‘Carrots,’ as she’s known, and I could trust her. I don’t need to think fast with her. I just have to keep it smooth for her and she’s always fast enough.”
With the advantage of jumping late in the order, several other pairs had jumped double-clear, including Alex Matz (USA), who led before Willis stepped in. Using the mare’s natural speed, Willis set a new time to beat of 37.70 seconds. Matz and Dorothy Matz’ Cashew CR took second in 38.43 seconds.
Willis will be the first to admit Blue Movie is not the easiest ride, and getting to know her was a challenge as well. “It took me a long time to work her out,” he commented. “She didn’t jump her first 1.40m until she was 9. It took her many years to understand her but once that happened when she was 11 or 12, she really rewarded me.”
Sydney Shulman Desiderio (ISR) and Narcotique vh Dingenshof completed the podium after a penalty-free jump-off performance in 38.55 seconds.
Willis believes Blue Movie, at 16, is arguably at her best, and plans for several more big years with her. “I think she’s as good as ever, if not better,” he continued. “I’m looking forward to the next few years with her. I think she’s still up there for Paris and she’s got a few big grand prixs to come before then. I enjoy every day I have with her.”
While Willis did just arrive earlier Thursday to compete in this class, he isn’t staying long. “Not sure if it’s ambitious or desperate, but I’ve got a couple horses to jump in Chicago tomorrow,” he said. “Then I’ll be back for the [CSI5*] Grand Prix Saturday and then back to Chicago Sunday. Luckily I’ve got a great team behind me so they make it all possible.”
Friday evening of GLEF V features the CSI5* Major League Show Jumping Team Competition, where eight teams will vie for top honors and prize money in the second leg of the 10-stop tour.
Final Results: $138,600 Premier Equestrian CSI5* 1.50m
1. Rowan Willis (AUS) & Blue Movie: 2006 AES mare by Chacco Blue x Pilot, Rowan Willis: 0/0/37.70
2. Alex Matz (USA) & Cashew CR: 2008 HOLST gelding by Cassini II x Quinar, Dorothy Matz: 0/0/38.43
3. Sydney Shulman Desiderio (ISR) & Narcotique vh Dingenshof: 2013 BWP mare by Harley VDL x Chacco Blue, Ilan Ferder: 0/0/38.55
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography