Daniel Bluman’s (ISR) top mare Gemma W has her share of strengths in the ring. She is careful, fast across the ground, and can turn on a dime with the utmost precision.
Though if you ask Bluman, her greatest asset is more cerebral in nature.
“Her biggest talent is her mind, she has the mind of a champion. She really knows her job and if you look at her record she’s jumped so many clear rounds throughout her career and that’s phenomenal,” said Bluman of the 12-year-old mare.
Her latest victory kicked off the CSI5* action during the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) Week 12, the final week of show jumping at Wellington International. In Thurday’s WEF Challenge Cup Round 12, Gemma W and Bluman topped a 15 horse jump-off designed by Guilherme Jorge (BRA).
For a rather crowded, competitive second round, Bluman and Gemma still managed to jump into a league of their own. They finished on a time of 36.5 seconds, which was a second and a half faster than runner up Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and 10-year-old Major Tom on 38 seconds. Bliss Heers (USA) landed in third position with her veteran partner, 13-year-old stallion Antidote De Mars, with 38.46 seconds on the clock.
It’s no surprise that Gemma had more energy in her tank and some seconds to spare when compared to the rest of the field. Ahead of the winter circuit, Bluman decided to hold his cards for the highly anticipated Rolex week by saving Gemma’s strength. He only jumped her in two CSIO4* classes earlier this month leading up to the WEF Challenge Cup Round 12, which proved to be plenty of warm-up for the seasoned mare. While the premier class is Saturday’s $500,000 Rolex CSI5* Grand Prix, so far this week has gone exactly according to plan.
“Gemma had a very successful 2022 and I’ve been taking it easy with her and not jumping a bunch; the plan was to have her fit and ready for this week to come and attack this Grand Prix qualifier. She was fresh, and the plan was to do the leave outs everywhere and use her ground speed to put in a competitive time with enough pressure on the couple riders after me,” said Bluman.
Much of their success in 2022 was along the trailblazing North American show jumping tour, Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ). The Trailblazers rider achieved a back to back set of wins at MLSJ Toronto at Angelstone Events, highlighted by the CSI5* Grand Prix. Bluman has a certain claim to fame at Angelstone, having won the exact same class in 2021 with stallion Ubiluc. Yet, it was all the more special with Gemma, who rose to the occasion as “top horse” when Ladriano Z was rehabbing from an injury.
Ever since, it has been nowhere but up for Bluman and Gemma, who have been partnered since her six-year-old year. Together, they have accrued nearly 800,000 euro in prize money and earned 67% clear round and 50% top ten finish averages at 1.50m height in 2022, according to Jumpr App. On Saturday, they’ll look to boost their stats even higher. According to Bluman, they are more than ready for this next challenge.
“The Rolex Grand Prix in Wellington has been my favorite class. I haven’t decided the plan for Saturday yet, but I can say for sure that it will be a very exciting class with great horse-and-rider combinations, said Bluman.
“Gemma feels in top form. She feels fresh and ready to compete.”