Willis Rolls to Victory in Norwood Gold Cup
A couple of weeks ago William Willis didn’t even think he would get his home-bred horse Dollar Roll MS to the Horse of the Year Show . . . today they won the historic Norwood Gold Cup.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” said the 31-year-old from Karaka. “The horse picked up a virus after the World Cup final in January and this is his first show back.”
The Norwood class attracted 32 entries, with just three coming back for the jump-off over the Werner Deeg (GER) designed course. The first round saw plenty of faults, with riders challenged by the questions posed.
The jump-off saw Vicki Wilson (Hikurangi) out first aboard the imported Caretino Jewel. The took a rail three from home, finishing on four faults in 44.21 seconds.
Next out was Willis who looked to be chasing the steady clear until he dropped the second fence, and notched his speed up a few cogs to come home with four faults in 42.24 seconds.
Last out was Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) and Dunstan On The Point Sandy who were also going for a measured clear round, but a rail put paid to that and they had to settle for third.
At just 14 years old, Annabel Francis (Darfield), aboard Glenara Vintage Rose, was the baby of the field, and finished the first round with eight faults to place 11th.
But the day belonged to Willis and the eight-year-old Dollar Roll MS.
“It is a very special win,” he said, “and especially for my mother (Mary-Rose Sharp) who bred the horse . . . this means the world to her. The amount of time and effort she has spent on me, my brothers and the breeding programme is incredible.”
And Dollar Roll MS also came in for plenty of praise.
“He just tried his heart out and I am just stoked.”
While Willis has been competing at HOY for many years, this was his first-ever title.
“You’ve got to have a bit of luck on your side to win here.”
Willis loved Deeg’s course, saying he was particularly fond of the flowing German style of design.
He was planning to start the horse in the Silver Fern Stakes on Friday night, but will now save the horse for the Olympic Cup on Sunday.
The Willis family have been breeding at Matawhio Sport Horses for 12 years and are now in their third generation.