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Spotlight: Mike Winter and Wonderful Will- From Racehorse to Rolex

April 19, 2009

Mike Winter and Wonderful Will

As the clock ticks down to the 2009 Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event, it is time to learn about this year’s contenders. Who are the favorites? Who are the underdogs? And how did these spectacular athletes get where they are today?

The Lexington Herald-Leader ran a story today about Canadian rider Mike Winter and his Rolex mount, Wonderful Will (TB). I remember seeing them on-course at Jersey Fresh two year ago, but I did not know their story.

Wonderful Will is a racehorse, turned track pony, turned event horse. Kentucky outrider Joe Riggs trains ex-racehorses for a second career as track ponies, but Wonderful Will was not so hot in either profession.

“I’ve had a lot of success on racehorses,” Winter said from his farm in Newnan, Ga. “They have boundless energy and athleticism. What I always say is that, in your training, you have to convince them to look to you for answers because they think and move so quickly, they try to solve everything themselves.”

Wonderful Will is only about 15.1 hands, not much above a pony, and Winter bought him for a client, a woman named Sher Schwartz.

But the son of Woodman proved too much horse for most everyone but Winter. He remembers training the horse over his first jump, a small cross rail on the ground. The horse jumped as high as the standards on either side.

“Mike had this expression on his face like, ‘What just happened?'” said Schwartz, Wonderful Will’s owner. “Then he did it again. He just always took to jumping. He was supposed to be my little event horse to go novice, but he jumps me out of the tack.”

This year’s Rolex has a strong international contingent, as riders are getting their feet wet for next year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Winter will be riding Wonderful Will and Kingpin at Rolex. He’s one of several international Olympians coming to Rolex in anticipation of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Others include Germany’s Bettina Hoy, Australia’s Lucinda Fredericks and France’s Nicholas Toussaint. Last year’s champion, Phillip Dutton, will return to defend his title on Connaught.

I’m looking forward to seeing this team compete at Rolex. Best of luck to their connections.

Mike Winter and Wonderful Will perform in the rain

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 20, 2009 10:33 am

    GREAT POST!! I love stories like this. So I blogged about your post 🙂
    I even passed the story on to my Canadian friends at Woodbine who are big on promoting OTTB’s.

    Have fun. I look forward to your photos.

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