Allison Thompson and Cactus Willie Crowned Eventing Champions at Thoroughbred Makeover

Photo courtesy of Retired Racehorse Project.

With 90 entries, Eventing was far and away the largest division at this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover — represent! In the end Allison Thompson of Fairview, NC, and Cactus Willie came away with the big win.

Allison purchased the 2012 Texas-bred gelding from Trillium Sport Horses in Ocala, FL. Cactus Willie (My Sweet William – Good Humor, by Smart Strike) had a milquetoast racing career, earning $1,305 in eight starts. His last race was just over a year ago, in September 2016, at Louisiana Downs and then it was onto a new career, in which he is clearly shining! Allison, whose main squeeze is her two-star horse Merlot 325, has done a beautiful job showing him the ropes — though she’s quick to give her horse all the credit.

Allison describes the horse as

“He was really relaxed for all three phases,” Allison says. “He’s easy to show off in dressage. And he just loped around on the buckle over the jumps.”

They earned a 76.316% in their dressage test, including a 9.5 on the free walk, then followed up with two foot-perfect jumping phases.


Cactus Willie’s winning dressage test at the Thoroughbred Makeover. He got a 9.5 on the free walk! Tune in to the live streaming at 9am tomorrow at

Posted by Thompson Equestrian on Friday, October 6, 2017


Cactus Willie in his show jumping phase at the Thoroughbred Makeover. Watch us tomorrow morning! Eventing runs from 9-9:45am

Posted by Thompson Equestrian on Friday, October 6, 2017

“He’s a really flashy mover, he’s very very loose, and he’s very attractive to look at, but his beast feature is his brain,” she says. Even with the Kentucky Horse Park’s electric atmosphere, she explains that he just needs to stand and look around and take everything in, and then he’s good to go.

“Initially he was for sale,” she says. “But everyone is keeping tabs on him and so many people love him. I don’t know if I can let this one go.”

Cactus Willie has enjoyed a successful Beginner Novice debut, finishing 4th at Windridge Summer H.T. in August, and in September winning Kentucky Classic and collecting another fourth at Poplar Place. Allison plans to take him to his first Novice event at the end of October, and then move him up to Training level in the spring.

Their work here this weekend isn’t done yet, however! Today the top five riders in each discipline will compete in the Thoroughbred Makeover Finale for the title of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred and a share of $100,000 in prize money. The competition will be live-streamed on the RRP website and Facebook page, the USEF Network, the Blood-Horse, and can be watched on Roku or Apple TV. There will be text or phone voting after the competition concludes at around 5 p.m., at which time they will announce the number. Until then, the competition is still underway so tune in!

Congrats again to Allison and Cactus Willie — we look forward to following  talented OTTB in his new career!

Also of interest to eventers: Nick Larkin, winner of the 1998 Rolex Kentucky 4* event with his New Zealand OTTB Red and 4th place finisher in this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover Eventing division, is hosting a cross country clinic tomorrow on the infield of the Kentucky Horse Park’s steeplechase course. Mounted instruction is available to Makeover participants and their Makeover horses for $75 — click here to register. Auditing is available at no cost to anyone gaining access to the KY Horse Park.

A number of other clinics are being offered as well, including “Freestyle 101” with Tik Maynard, “Dressage Fix-A-Test” with Jennifer Roth, and show jumping with Richard Lamb. See the full clinic lineup here.

Thoroughbred Makeover Eventing Division Top 10 (note: second round scores for top 5 are scores for today’s “America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred” final):

Thoroughbred Makeover: Website, Entries, Schedule, Ride Times, Live StreamLive Scores