As the dust began to settle on the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby Non-Pro, Level 4 Champion Indy Roper’s thoughts were on what it meant to the people around her.
Her family. Her trainer. But, mostly, she thought of what it meant for her winning mount, Spooks Show Time, aka “Raymond.”
“It was great to finally put it together for them and truly for the horse,” said Roper, shortly after winning the title on Friday, June 19 in Oklahoma City. “I think that if anyone deserved it tonight, it was the horse.”
Roper, of Hobart, Indiana, and the white-faced buckskin gelding marked a 222.5 early on in the going and managed to hold the lead throughout. NRHA Derby Level 4 Non-Pro Reserve Champions Spooks Grand Slam and Kim Muehlstaetter were 2.5 points back with a 220.
Like the winner, the reserve champion horse is a Bobby Lewis-bred son of NRHA Triple Crown Champion Spooks Gotta Whiz.
Roper grew up riding hunters and all-around horses. She rode her first reiner while in college at Auburn University, and the family bought its first reining horse around 2010.
Her parents, Tim and Linda Roper, bought Spooks Show Time two years ago at the urging of Andrea Fappani, who was their trainer at the time. Roper herself didn’t need any convincing — as soon as she rode him, she fell in love with the big-hearted horse.
“He gives it 110 percent every time that I walk into the show pen, which makes it really easy,” she said.
Spooks Show Time entered the NRHA Derby with more than $108,000 in lifetime earnings, which he earned in both the Open and the Non-Pro. He was ridden by multiple trainers during his Open career, winning the 2016 Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity Levels 4 & 3 Open co-championship with Yonathan Baruch, making the Open finals of the 2017 NRHA Derby and Reining By The Bay with Andrea Fappani and taking the 2018 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 2 Open with Ricky Nicolazzi.
After the Ropers bought him in 2018, three weeks later Roper rode him to the Derby Levels 4, 3, 2 & 1 Non-Pro championships at the High Roller. They also won the Levels 3 & 2 Non-Pro at last year’s Cactus Reining Classic.
The NRHA Derby was Spooks Show Time’s second big show after an extended layoff due to an injury he received in last year’s National Reining Breeders Classic. His first start this year came in last month’s Arizona Reining Horse Association Mother’s Day Slide, which was the first big reining held after the moratorium on shows due to the coronavirus.
Roper said she knew as soon as Spooks Show Time hit the run-in stop to kick off the pattern in the finals that he was on his game.
“There’s nothing better than when he runs in the gate and you hit your first stop and then everything kind of builds from there,” she said.
After the NRHA Derby win, Roper called the win “priceless.”
“When we bought our first reiner, my dad and I sat down and said this would be a bucket list item,” said Roper, who trains with Marco Ricotta. “So, as two of us sit here tonight, it’s kind of surreal. We keep pinching ourselves…did this really happen to us?”
Spooks Show Time is one of a roster of accomplished full siblings – by Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz – out of the mare Dolittle Lena (by Shining Spark).
Dolittle Lena is the dam of a dozen money-winning performers with total lifetime earnings of more than $460,000. Her three leading earners — Spooks Gotta Spark ($137,784), Spooks Show Time ($127,366) and Sharp Dressed Spook ($98,884) – are all full siblings by Spooks Gotta Whiz.
The mare was represented by three full siblings in the 2020 NRHA Derby level 4 Non-Pro finals.
In addition to Spooks Show Time’s win, Sharp Dressed Spook finished seventh with Luca Fappani and Spooks Gotta Lena tied for tenth with Francesca Sternberg.
The mare’s leading earner, Spooks Gotta Spark, was scheduled to compete in Saturday’s NRHA Derby Level 4 Open finals with Equi-Stat Elite $6 Million Rider Shawn Flarida.