European Derby Level 4 Winner Ann Fonck
Ann Fonck & Gunners Specialolena. • Photo by Hautmann Photo.

Hat trick! Ann Fonck wins third NRHA European Derby Open

Ann Fonck continued her reign as one of the top riders in Europe by winning the 2019 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) European Derby Level 4 Open Championship.

The newest NRHA Million Dollar Rider, Fonck , of Belgium, marked a 222 with Diego Dalla Gassa’s Gunners Specialolena (Gunners Special Nite x Dolly Jac Olena x Spat Olena). That won them the €50,000-added * European Derby Level 4 Open championship. 

The €164,000-added* NRHA European Derby Open was for horses aged 5, 6, 7 and 8.

“I’m really really happy; it’s my third European Derby Level 4 Championship! My son, Justin, for the first time, drew for me and picked draw No. 1, so I told my husband that maybe next time would do it myself,” Fonck said. “In the end, it looks like it was a good draw! My horse was good, she is a really nice mare, but once again, I didn’t really expect to win, because when I was riding during the training sessions, I saw really great horses and such good riders competing…in the end, it all worked out and I’m really happy.“ 

The 5-year-old mare has achieved much success in Europe’s biggest reining events, including winning last year’s Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA) 4-Year-Old Futurity Non-Pro with Laura Dalla Gassa.

Gunners Specialolena was bred and nominated by Luigi Parise and has more than $25,000 NRHA lifetime earnings.

European Derby Level 3 Open

Nico Sicuro rode the 7-year-old stallion Sugar Little Step (Wimpys Little Step x Ah Sugar Sugar x Lil Ruf Peppy) to the €35,000-added* Level 3 Open Championship. 

The horse owned by Quarter Dream marked a 220.5 score.

“I started riding him in February this year. He is already known for his great achievements with Gennaro Lendi and Markus Gebert in the saddle,” says the 23-year-old head trainer for Quarter Dream, a breeding and training facility based in the south of Italy. 

Sicuro had success with the stallion earlier this year, winning the Levels 3 & 2 Open at the IRHA Derby. He was quick to thank the owner of Quarter Dream, Pietro and Helena Marseglia, as well as the whole team behind him both at home and during the European Derby show.

Sugar Little Step was bred and nominated by Wolf Dieter Luft and boasts more than $59,000 NRHA lifetime earnings.

European Derby Level 1 Open

Two horse-and-riders tied for the Derby evel 1 Open Championship: Clémence Neveux of France and Mona Doerr of Germany who closed their performances with a 219 score. 

Neveux, riding Thomas Soutric’s 8-year-old gelding Frankiegoestoholywod (Hollywoodstinseltown x CN Missilenium x Mifillenium), exited the arena after her run with a full-house cheering on for her suggesting the highest score of the first section of the finals. 

“My horse was really good during the whole run tonight. Our circles were really great, the turns could have been better, but I was happy with them,” said an emotional Neveux. “He was a little fast in the rundowns but stopped really great. I want to thank Thomas [Soutric] and also the owners of CM Quarter Horses who have trusted me for more than ten years now with my program.”

Frankiegoestoholywod was bred by Angelo Capitelli and nominated by Edoardo Bernardelli.

Second to last to enter the pen in the first section of the Open Finals was Doerr with Martin Bachmann’s G Whiz Gus (Inwhizable x Peppiment Patti x Dunnit In Hollywood). 

“I’m really happy because this is my first NRHA European Derby and I won it. My horse is a really lovely gelding with a big heart. He is always listening and tonight he gave me everything,” said the NRHA Professional of Germany. “I want to thank all the people behind me, and of course a special thank you goes to the owner Martin [Bachmann] and to my trainer Dominik Reminder; he helped me a lot here at the show and at home.” 

The 5-year-old gelding was bred and nominated by Heike Melanie Ebler.

European Derby Show

The week in Kreuth also offered the NRHA European 3-year-old Pre Futurity, the €12,000-added NRHA Mid Summer 4-year-old Futurity as well as a full-slate of NRHA Ancillary classes and was managed by IRHA in collaboration with NRHA Germany.

More than 320 horses made their way to the Ostabayernhalle and contributed in the success of the NRHA European owned event.

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