Reining By The Bay Derby Level 4 Open Champion Andrea Fappani and Chic Dreamin - Photo by Katie Marchetti

Fappani & Chic Dreamin Have Their Eyes on the Prize

When the Reining By The Bay Derby Open began, the first horse out marked a 224.5. The next was a 226. Two draws later, the judges gave a 230 and the spectactors crowded beneath long white tents went wild! If the size of the arena wasn’t intimidating enough, the competition drawing huge scores as they disappeared into a cloud of sand and dust should have done the trick. However, not one of those impressive scores earned the title this year. It wasn’t until Andrea Fappani swung a leg over his third mount of the afternoon, Chic Dreamin, that the show had a Derby Level 4 Open Champion! The duo marked a staggering 232 amidst the best of the best in a field of 25 Level 4 horse-and-rider teams.

Chic Dreamin, who is the leading performer by Equi-Stat Elite $5 Million Sire Magnum Chic Dream, is the “complete horse,” according to Fappani. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based trainer had his eye on the stallion for quite some time before he was able to get the horse in his barn.

“I really liked the horse. I thought he would fit my style, and it took me a little bit to get with him because he was trained all his life very different from the way I train, so it took me a few months,” Fappani said of the Silver Spurs Equine-owned stallion (out of Skeets Red Dunit x Skeets Peppy), who was bred by Kathy and Casey Hinton.

Fappani didn’t bring the then-4-year-old back into the show ring until the following year, when he won the National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Level 4 Open right out of the gate.

“Last year was a great show year for us, and because we won the NRBC last year, we wanted to really concentrate on the [National Reining Horse Association] Derby this year. We didn’t get to win that, but I told owners – Michael and Michelle [Miola], of Silver Spurs Equine – that I think I could win the Reining By The Bay on him, and win another big title. And, that was the point here!”

They certainly made their point when they brought home a total of $32,491 for the Championship.

Even Fappani, an Equi-Stat Elite $5 Million Rider, admitted he was feeling the pressure this year.

“It’s always hard here, but with the added money, a few extra guys brought their best horses, and everyone was at the top of their game,” Fappani explained. “What sets this show apart, however, is the big arena, which encourages the competition to run a lot harder than they would in a smaller arena, increasing the chance of making a mistake.”

While the size may have intimidated some, the arena was just right for Chic Dreamin, who has more than $183,000 in lifetime earnings.

“This arena fit him. He had never shown here, and this is an outdoor arena, so he didn’t really know he was being shown. And he’s 6; he’s been shown a lot, so I think that was a good help for me,” Fappani said. “He was really honest in there and didn’t try to anticipate any maneuvers here. It worked out well!”

Derby Level 3 Open

Marking a 228 from the 42nd draw earned Diamonds Tinseltown (Hollywoodstinseltown x Diamonds Sparklette x Genuine Doc) and Tracer Gilson the Level 3 title.

reining horse
The Level 3 Champion was Tracer Gilson aboard Diamonds Tinseltown • Photo by Katie Marchetti

“Honestly, I didn’t know him that good. I just bought him from Gabriel Diano, so I’ve only had him for a couple weeks,” Gilson said while affectionately rubbing the forehead of the 2014 Carol Rose-bred stallion.

“He’s a cool horse. When I first tried him, he fit me. I didn’t have to figure anything out. I just tried not to screw him up,” Gilson said. “I didn’t know what to expect out there, but he can stop. He was really honest. This run is pretty special.”

The performance, which paid $17,374 to owner Loren Booth, nearly doubled the lifetime earnings on Diamonds Tinseltown’s Equi-Stat record.

The stiff competition wasn’t lost on the champion, who said with a laugh that Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider Duane Latimer “scares him every time he shows.” Gilson, who surpassed the $600,000 mark at the show, has been come to Reining By The Bay for roughly 15 years, and he said he’ll be back again for more next year.

“It’s such a great event and such a great pen to show in. If it wasn’t this good, the guys from Texas wouldn’t come! Everyone did good,” Gilson said.

Derby Level 2 Open

“That was crazy, having to mark a 226 to win the Level 2!” remarked Sean McBurney, of Arlington, Washington, after he and Tinker With Dreams (Tinker With Guns x This Chicsdundreamin x Magnum Chic Dream) collected their awards. “I had never shown him before, but NRHA Million Dollar Rider Casey Deary had shown him for us in the past. This is such a big arena, and he’s just 4 years old, so it was interesting to see how he was going to hang with it. He’s a tough little guy.”

reining horse
The Level 2 title went to Tinker With Dreams and Sean McBurney • Photo by Katie Marchetti

“This horse can do everything, he’s super physical,” continued McBurney, who has nearly $275,000 in lifetime earnings after collecting $7,902 for his performance aboard the Rhodes River Ranch homebred stallion. “I think he gets a little older and a little stronger; I don’t know if there’s much that he cant do. He’s gamey. He likes going out there and doing his job and stuff like that. God, he’s just a physical little thing.“

McBurney affectionately described “Cilantro,” who was named after a post Super Bowl game show performed by Will Ferrell, as “pretty quiet,” and “mildly obnoxious at the farm.” But with a horse as good as Cilantro, the trainer admitted there is bound to be some competition for time in the saddle.

“I have a feeling somebody might keep him from me, either my wife or someone. He’s just a good little horse!”

Derby Level 1 Open

“I’ve been pretty confident on him this year, so it’s been fun how he keeps getting better,” Benny Maddox said after he and Thebettertohearuwith, who won the Reining By The Bay Futurity Level 4 Open in 2015, marked a 224 and were named Level 1 Champions in the Derby Open.

Level 1 was won by Benny Maddox and Thebettertohearuwith • Photo by Katie Marchetti

It wasn’t a smooth slide into the winner’s circle for the duo this year, though. Maddox, of Redding, California, was called home to evacuate his horses from his ranch due to the Carr Fire, a blaze covering more than 95,000 acres that has killed six people and destroyed more than 500 homes.

“I didn’t get to ride him last night because I was evacuating. So, I didn’t really have any expectations today; I just kind of was like, ‘OK, well we’re just going to go through our maneuvers and see.’ He was great. I’m super happy with him,” Maddox said.

The 2012 son of Spooks Gotta Whiz out of Chex Out The Cowgirl (by Lean With Me) added $5,716 in earnings to his existing Equi –Stat record of more than $98,000 for owner/breeder Bill Coburn, of Redding, California.

“We’re real close to getting him to $100,000, and that’s the goal,” Maddox said in regard to their plans to compete in the High Roller Reining Classic in Las Vegas. “He’s pretty good everywhere, which is probably the best thing about him. He waits on you, on whatever you want. He’s a really good horse.”