Earning a standing ovation in addition to the prestigious Level 4 Open Championship at the Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA)/National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby was Gunnerlicious, ridden by Ann Fonck. The flashy 6-year-old stallion (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x Mifs Doll x Mifillena) owned by S. Vannietvelt and G. de Pauw marked a 224.5 for the win.
“This is an incredibly talented horse that we’ve had in our barn since he was 3 years old,” said Fonck. “He spins and stops in an outstanding manner.
“[My husband] Bernard took the NRHA France Futurity 3- and 4-Year-Old Level 4 Open Championship, the NRHA Belgium Futurity Open 3- and 4-Year-Old Level 4 Open Championship and the Belgium Derby Open Reserve Championship with him, and I went on to claim Reserve honors in the IRHA Derby last year. He was just great for me tonight, and I am thrilled because I know what he’s capable of.”
With a 221.5, Fonck also tied for sixth riding This Wimps So Fly (Wimpys Little Step x Fly Flashy Jac x Boggies Flashy Jac), for owners C. Klipfel & S. Lisec, and Spook N Perla (Smart Spook x Shine On Ruff x Lil Ruf Peppy), for owners Golden Paint Ranch.
The Level 4 Open Reserve championship with a 222.5 went to Fonck’s husband, NRHA Million Dollar Rider Bernard Fonck, aboard Smart Shootin Spook (Smart Spook x Colonels Cattin Gun x Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner]), a 5-year-old mare owned by Rosanne Sternberg.
Winning the Level 3 Open with a 222 was Italian Max Ruggeri riding Mister Little Uno (Mister Uno x Bonita Bahia x Gallo Del Cielo [Rooster]), a 6-year-old stallion owned by Paolo Morandotti. The pair had already left their mark in the show pen by winning the 2015 IRHA/NRHA Derby Levels 3 and 2 Open.
“The level of competition here tonight was truly high, but I knew that my horse could bring home a title,” Ruggeri said of the horse he started and trained. “He’s an extremely intelligent horse and his athletic ability is outstanding. I know he can do more in the future and I can’t wait!”
Earning the Level 3 Open Reserve Championship as well as the Level 2 Open Championship with a 220.5 was Christian Baldelli riding Tinseltown Surprise (Hollywoodtinseltown x Flashy Sparkle Doll x ARC Sparkle Surprise), a 5-year-old mare owned by Stefano Badioli. Bred and raised by Baldelli, the mare was his first futurity mount.
The Level 1 Open Championship was split between Daniele Sapigni, riding Gunslinger Lil Step (Wimpys Little Step x Playguns Rose x Playgun), a 6-year-old stallion owned by Tommaso Coltrioli, and Poli Barberis riding CF Frozen Smart Jaba (RS Little Red Jaba x Chic Sailor x Frozen Sailor), a 6-year-old gelding by owned by Francesca Polito. They both marked a 214.5.