man riding a horse
Carlo Ambrosini and Gunnalittlestep are leading the way after the go-round of the IRHA/NRHA Derby Non-Pro in Italy. • Photo by Andrea Bonaga.

Italian Non-Pros Lead After IRHA/NRHA Derby Go Round

The non-pros put in some big runs this week at the 2019 Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA)/National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby in Italy. The leader of the Level 4 Non-Pro at the event, which is held during the Salone del Cavallo Americano horse show, is Italian Carlo Ambrosini. He marked the highest score during the opening rounds, and is at the head of the pack going into Friday’s Derby Non-Pro finals.

Ambrosini, 19, piloted Gunnalittlestep to a round-topping 217.5 in the Level 4 Non-Pro. Born and raised in Lombardy, has joined his father, Pietro Paolo, in the management of the family business – specialized in cattle breeding – and with him represents the outstanding Ambrosini QH stables.

Last year, Carlo Ambrosini was probably one of the foremost non-pros in Europe, with victories and top placings in almost all the major futurities, earning him a spot in the world Top 20 and more than $76,000 in lifetime earnings.

His horse, Gunnalittlestep, is a 2015 son of Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Gunnatrashya and out of Gay Jays Little Step (by Wimpys Little Step). With Carlo’s father aboard, the horse bred by Angelika and Markus Gebert in April placed third at Level 3 and fourth at Level 4 at the NRHA European Futurity. The horse was Paolo’s futurity prospect last year, and although Paolo had also entered himself for the Derby on Gunnalittlestep,  at the last moment decided to let his son show the horse, even though Ambrosini had ridden him very little.

“I have to thank my dad for this chance; my other mount just missed the final so I would have had to watch it from the stands,” Ambrosini said. “’Gunnalittle’ is not a highly-charged horse, so I think I will give him some rest and with the help of Marco [Pettinari], who knows him better than anyone else and has prepared him impeccably, I will try to do my best in this final … Otherwise, I’ll never hear the end of it from the boss, after he left me the best horses!”

Just behind Ambrosini in the opening round was another of Europe’s most successful non-pro riders, Gina Schumacher. She rode Dun Escaping BB to within half a point of the go-round leader. The 2013 stallion is by Don Quixote Escapes and out of Hollywood Balloues (by Hollywood Dun It).

Level 3 Non-Pro

Edoardo “Edo” Bernardelli is leading the Level 3 Non-Pro at 216.5 with his talented gelding, Whiz Wild West. The 28-year-old Italian rider lives in Olgiate Molgora in the province of Lecco. Like Ambrosini, he is a “non pro professional” because his day is equally divided between time spent in the saddle at the Camisi QH stables, and the other half working in his parents’ company in Milan.

Bernardelli has been riding since he was a boy and had several trainers, both Italian and American. He sought help preparing for the derby with trainer Mirko Midili. His mount, Whiz Wild West, is by Spark N Whiz and out of West Coast Oak (by West Coast Whiz). The horse, who was the 2017 IRHA/NRHA Futurity 4 year-old Champion with Guglielmo Fontana, was bought by Bernardelli about a year ago from Luga QH.

“Now the challenge is to manage him as well as possible in the lead up to the final and, once in the arena, to try to gain points with his strongest maneuver,” Bernardelli  said. “Fortunately, he is a very generous horse.”

One point less, and second-best score in this level, was Belgian rider Suzanne Scharroo riding Topsail Wimp BB, a 2014 gelding by Wimpys Little Step and out of Soft Whizpers (by Topsail Whiz).


Levels 2 & 1 Non-Pro

Austrian Wolfgang Hammer marked the top score in the go-round of the Derby Level 2 & 1 Non-Pro with a 214 on two horses: Chicago Lena and Mr Ricochet.

Chicago Lena is an Austrian-bred son of Equi-Stat Elite $13 Million Sire Smart Chic Olena and out of Bright Gun City (by New Jack City). Mr Ricochet is by Ricochet Rooster and out of Docs Oak Rosy (by Doc Sail Win).

Wolfgang and his wife, previously non pros with Vern Sapergia and Silvia Rzepka, opened their own stables in 2015, where trainer Tomas Martinek started working the following year.

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