The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) gained a new millionaire rider at the European Affiliate Championships.
Ann Fonck, of Belgium, unofficially passed that milestone when she and Spook N Perla won the $10,000-Added Open Championship this weekend at the event held at Tuse Creek Ranch, in Regstrup, Denmark.
“I’m really happy,” Ann Fonck said. “Becoming a million-dollar rider was never in my plans. My priority was being a good mommy and for a couple of years, I showed very little. When I went back to showing again, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something special in a ‘man’s world.’ This is the outcome and I still cannot believe I made it, thanks to the great horses I have had the honor of riding.”
Her winning mount (Smart Spook x Shine On Ruff x Lil Ruf Peppy) was a 2011 mare owned by Golden Paint Ranch.
Fonck is a familiar face in the winner’s circle, having won some of Europe’s biggest reining futurities and derbies. At last year’s European Derby, she won the Championship and Reserve Championship — and tied for third. She also has won multiple NRHA World Championships.
The podium was all Belgian as Wim Vervecken scored a great 220 riding Janne Beate Melby’s Wimpy Genuinediamond (Wimpys Little Step x Ms Genuine Whiz s Topsail Whiz) for the Reserve Championship.
NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Bernard Fonck claimed third-place honors aboard another horse owned by Golden Paint Ranch, Missedouttinseltown (Hollywoodstinseltown x Miss Sliding Peppy x Lil Ruf Peppy).
Clinching the $5,000-added NRHA EA Non Pro Championship with a 218.5 score was Dries Verschueren of Belgium riding Smart N Sparkin owned by Golden Paint Ranch.
The 2008 stallion is by Equi-Stat Elite$13 Million Sire Smart Chic Olena and out of $623,691 producer Setting Off Sparks (by Shining Spark).
“I am really proud of my horse because he was in the breeding barn until 3 weeks ago and once again when he was back to work, he did an excellent job,” said Verschueren. “My little boy is 11 years-old now and since he was 3 years old he has done nothing but earn great results. I would like to thank Bernard Fonck for the work on this horse and my parents — without them, I would not have these great horses to show!”
Taking reserve honors was Great Britain’s Francesca Sternberg who posted a 217.5 riding her own Spooks Gotta Lena (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Dolittle Lena x Shining Spark). Third place went to Lia Freriks of the Netherlands atop Ready For Revolution (Einsteins Revolution x Royal Paula Quixote x Okie Paul Quixote).
“This has been a fantastic show and we’ve come as a family, and each component of our family made it to the podium here,” said Sternberg. “My horse is technically Doug’s, who was kind enough to lend her to me for the Non-Pro, and she was great for me: her heart is as big as a house!”
Limited Non-Pro Championship
In a field of 38 qualified riders, there was a runoff for the Limited Non-Pro Championship. Two riders marked a 216: Dutchman Leonoor De Bruin and Crome Dont Corrode and British rider George Allen Sternberg and RS Barbaresco Blue.
The two chose to run off for the title and, once they had both performed again, the highest step of the podium was for De Bruin and Crome Dont Corrode (Custom Crome x Maggie Chex x Buenonic Chex).
“This is a dream come true,” said De Bruin said of the horse owned by De Bruin Reining Horses. “My horse was really nice to me and yes, I really wanted to make it to the highest step of the podium, especially after having taken part in the Affiliate Championship the past and never placing higher than third a few times. My 11-year-old horse is fantastic and I’ve been riding him for six years now. He truly deserves this Championship title.”
Youth 14-18 Championship
The $100-added NRHA EA Youth 14-18 Championship counted 27 qualified young reiners from Europe. Nimroid Vannietvelt of Belgium did it again, this time aboard Nic Ricochet owned by Vannietvelt/De Pauw. With a great performance, he rode the gelding (Ricochet Rooster x Minnie Nic x SMF Lenas Award) to a winning 221.
“I really love this horse,” said Nimroid. “He already rode me to an Affiliate Championship two years ago, which is when I started riding him. He suffered a small injury three months ago and was in the pasture until two weeks ago. That’s when I started riding him again and he was right there for me. He’s 11 years old and never tries to trick you in the show pen … he’s simply special!”
With only two horses left to go, Isabeau Keiser of Sweden performed a great run riding her own Gumps Hummer BB (Little Gump x Groovie Quintana x Don Quintana). Once they left the show arena, a 218.5 appeared on the scoreboard and the second step of the podium was theirs.
“I’ve never scored a 72 with my horse before today and I am thrilled,” said the 15-year-old. “I’ve had my 7-year-old gelding close to three years ago. I fell in love with him when I tried him; he’s a sweet little horse, and was super special for me today.”
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