Woman riding a horse
Gunners Specialolena & Laura Dalla Gassa. Photo by Andrea Bonaga.

Laura Dalla Gassa Takes IRHA 4-Year-Old Futurity Non-Pro

Six nations were represented in the Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA)/National Reining Horse Association 4-Year-Old Non-Pro finals. In the end, Italy’s Laura Dalla Gassa was victorious with Gunners Specialolena.

She and the daughter of Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Gunners Special Nite took the Levels 4 and 3 championships.

“This is a truly special story,” said an emotional Dalla Gassa, who bested riders from France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. “It all started last year when my dad [Diego] and I were looking for a mare that could in the future become our top brood mare. We had seen quite a few mares but “Dolly”, who had been shown by Nicola Cordioli, was the one that I immediately fell in love with — there was something about her.”

Dalla Gassa and her father decided Gunners Specialolena, who was bred in Italy by Luigi Parise, would be ridden under the guidance of Ann Fonck. The bay mare, who had $11,471 on her Equi-Stat record before the show, is the lone money-earner of Dolly Jac Olena (by Spat Olena).

“Ann and Bernard are amazing people and amazing trainers; and Ann proved that she was the right one as soon as she took over the reins. She was already a good mare but is becoming better and better every time Ann puts work on her,” Dalla Gassa said. “Our mare did well at the NRHA European Futurity, she won the Belgium Futurity and was third at the NRHA Germany Breeders Futurity with an amazing 227.5 score. We knew she was a good horse, but never imagined she would be so good.”

The 2018 IRHA/NRHA 4-year-old Non Pro Futurity with Laura in the saddle was one of Fonck’s plans for the mare.

 “We took her home at Ongaresca Reining Horses where [NRHA Professional and Judge] Ricky Bordignon and my dad would help me out when I rode her,” Dalla Gassa explained. “I would call Ann whenever I needed extra help and she was always there for me. The first time I showed her we won the regional APCR Futurity and when we got here my goal was to win. In the first go-round I was very nervous because I wanted to make the finals. Tonight I was a lot more relaxed and things went exactly as planned! Next year, after a well-deserved break, Ann will be showing her again.”

The Level 4 Non-Pro Reserve Championship went to Manuel Bonzano and Zedd Sunburst (Great Sun Burst x Ms Sanditch Whiz x Topsail Whiz) a mare bred by 23 Quarter Horses. In the Level 3 division, renowned breeder Claudio Risso claimed Reserve honors riding Rs Twitter Jac (RS Great Jac Feona x RS Countach Olena x Spat Olena).

Level 2 Non-Pro

Andrea Castrucci and KN Taco Whiz posted a 212 to take the title in the Level 2 Non-Pro Championship.

The stallion is a son of Hesa Mega Whiz (by Topsail Whiz) out of the mare KN Skeets Miss Badger (by Skeets Dun). He was bred by Castrucci, of Rome, Italy.

“Taco was bred by us and is an own son of one of our stallions. He is out of a mare, also bred by us, who was never shown because of injury but who has already proven herself as a brood mare,” said Castrucci. “I have two full-brothers to Taco and am very happy with them.”

KN Taco Whiz was trained by Gennaro Lendi, who showed him to the Lazio Futurity where he won. In the IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA Futurity he was shown by Luca Dossetto, who unfortunately spun him five times, and following the year-end event he made his way back to Castrucci’s facility, KN Resort.

“This is a really good horse and, after having been shown by a great trainer such as Lendi, put me in the position of having to adapt to him. This is the very first time that I’ve shown him and, because I don’t know him that well, I wanted to stay on the safe side,” he said. “I will certainly ask more in the derbies and, even though he is not easy for me to show, I like him a lot and I am happy that I did not sell him.”

Castrucci, who has been showing reining horses since 2004, has won more than $150,000 in the NRHA thanks to an impressive show record that includes an NRHA Non Pro World Championship won in 2009 with Skeets Dun and an AQHA World title.

Claiming the Level 2 Reserve Championship was Lara Lorengo riding Heidi Whiz, a daughter of Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Walla Walla Whiz out of Heidi Sailor(by Frozen Sailer).

Level 1 Non-Pro

Andrea Castelli and his Miss Playguns had already left their mark in the CremonaFiere arena on Tuesday after the pair had taken home the IRHA/FISE Novice Horse Non Pro Championship with a 142.5 score. They made the show even better with the Level 1 Non-Pro title.

“My goal was not only to slide on the highest step of the podium in the Italian Championship … it was also that of making the finals and, possibly, take home a title in the 4-year-old Futurity,” said Castelli who qualified for the Level 2 and 1 finals. “I still cannot believe that we won the L1 title. I’ve had this mare for the past year and, even though she’s always been consistent, this year she proved that she could do better both at home and in the show pen.

“As a matter of fact, she has matured a lot. Tonight, we could have done even better but, my mistake, we had an over spin penalty. I’m really happy and my thank you goes to my girlfriend, Giulia Mandaletti, and to [NRHA Professional] Mattia Nadalini who will collaborate with Mandaletti Quarter Horses as of next year.”

Bred in Italy by Alessandro Cazzaniga, Miss Playguns is a daughter of Great Sun Burst out of Playguns Chick (by Playgun). She entered the show with an Equi-Stat record of $731.

A half-a-point behind Castelli’s 209.5, Alessia Simoncini and her Ot Great Sun (Great Sun Burst x OT Tarisme x Taris Valentine) took the Level 1 Reserve Championship. The 20-year-old, who rides under the guidance of Gennaro Lendi, last year took the IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA Level 1 Non-Pro Futurity Championship.