IRHA Derby Open
The 2019 edition of the €67.000-added Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA) Derby opened the arena on May 20 to Open and Non-Pro go-round competition. The Open division counted 104 entries across the four levels and, once the first section of the 2019 IRHA Level 4 Open Derby qualifier was over, Ann Fonck and Spook N Ruffles (NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Ruffle Me Up x Lil Ruf Peppy), owned by Brigitte Steiner, of Belgium, posted a 220.5 to lead.
In the second section Fonck, a multiple past NRHA Open World Champion, rode her second mount, Gunners Specialolena (NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Gunners Special Nite x Dolly Jac Olena x Spat Olena), owned by Diego Dalla Gassa, to top the qualifier after posting a 221.5, along with Lukas Czechowicz aboard CSG Magnifique Gun (Colonels Shining Gun x Im Magnifique x Magnum Chic Dream), owned by Katarzyna Roleska.
“Last year I showed this mare a few times and have been riding her again for the past six weeks,” said Fonck about the 5-year-old mare. “She always tries to do her best, and if she makes any mistakes, it’s because she tries too much, not because she doesn’t try hard enough!”
Czechowicz also had good things to say about his 6-year-old gelding, who was shown in the past by Fonck.
“This is a very talented horse and was really good in the qualifier,” Czechowicz said. “He knows his job, and in these days prior to the finals, we will take it easy.”
Leading the Levels 3 and 2 with a 219 was Nico Sicuro riding Quarter Dream’s 7-year-old stallion Sugar Little Step (NRHA Eleven Million Dollar Sire Wimpys Little Step x Ah Sugar Sugar x Lil Ruf Peppy).
“I have not been riding this horse for very long, and my main goal since I’ve had him is to get to know and trust each other,” said Sicuro about his mount, who boasts more than $45,500 in NRHA Lifetime Earnings.
With a 216.5 score, Luca Dossetto rode Surprise Me Chic (ARC Antares Surprise x Babe And Chic x Smart Sugar Chic), owned by Natalia Gambino, to lead the Level 1 Open division. Head trainer for KN Reining Resort, Dossetto was quick to thank the owner for giving him the opportunity to ride the 6-year-old stallion.
IRHA Derby Non-Pro
Gunnalittlestep (NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya x Gay Jays Little Step x Wimpys Little Step) was a finalist in the European Futurity Levels 4 and 3 Non-Pro with Paolo Ambrosini in the saddle. It was a last-minute decision for Paolo to let his son, Carlo, show him at the IRHA Derby. With his father’s 4-year-old gelding between the reins, the 19-year-old Italian rider rode to lead the Level 4 Non-Pro with a 217.5.
“I have to thank my dad for giving me this opportunity, especially as I did not make the finals on my own horse,” Carlo said. “The pressure is certainly on now that my dad gave me his best horse!”
In the first section of the Non-Pro Derby qualifier, Edoardo Bernardelli took the lead in both Levels 4 and 3 after scoring a 216.5 aboard his own Whiz Wild West (Spark N Whiz x West Coast Oak x West Coast Whiz). The pair ended up with the top score in Level 3.
“I am super pleased with the way my horse went,” said the 29-year-old from Italy. “I now have to manage him as best as I can leading up to the finals and, being the big-hearted horse he is, if I don’t mess up, I know he will do well.”
Wolfgang Hammer dominated Level 2 with a 214 score aboard his 2019 NRHA European Futurity Levels 3 and 2 champion, and Level 4 Reserve Champion, Chicago Lena (Smart Chic Olena x Bright Gun City x New Jack City). He also marked the same score with Mr Ricochet (Ricochet Rooster x Docs Oak Rosy x Doc Sail Win).
In the Level 1, two riders topped the qualifier. German Vanessa Kock, and Gilberto Bonzi, of Italy, each marked a 212 score. Kock rode her 7-year-old stallion QT Red Dun (Dun It On The QT x Moms Lil Ruffian x Lil Ruf Peppy); Bonzi rode CMP Long Legs Jac, a 5-year-old gelding by ARC Surprising Smart and out of Leolena Jac (by Spat Olena).