Michael Garnett & Sassy Son Ofa Gun were one of two teams that marked the top score in the Non-Pro Derby at the High Roller Reining Classic, sharing the win with Luca Fappani. * Photo by Waltenberry

Fappani & Garnett Find Redemption at the High Roller

The High Roller Reining Classic provided two talented riders a shot at redemption after disappointing results at the National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC).

Michael Garnett of Lincoln, Nebraska and Luca Fappani of Scottsdale, Arizona tied to win the Derby Level 4 Non-Pro with scores of 219. Each earned $6,914 for their efforts in the class that was held Tuesday, Sept. 15 at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Luca Fappani & Icecube

“At the NRBC the go-rounds went really well for me but the finals fell apart. So, for this show, my dad and I went to work with the little time we had to prepare my horses,” Fappani explained. 

The fine-tuning helped, and Fappani rode Icecube (SG Frozen Enterprise x Taris Designer Genes x Mr Boomerjac) and Sharp Dressed Spook (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Dolittle Lena x Shining Spark) to a 219 and 218, respectively. 

According to Fappani, there isn’t much he would change about his finals run on Icecube, the stallion his mother Tish Fappani rode to the 2018 National Reining Horse Association Futurity Level 4 Non-Pro championship. 

Luca Fappani and Icecube rallied for a great score in the Derby Level 4 Non-Pro at the High Roller Reining Classic, earning to co-championship. * Photo by Waltenberry.

Fappani describes Icecube, known as “Heath,” as a sweetheart that works hard and sometimes gets worried in the pen. The team mesh well together and Heath’s lifetime earnings now stand at $74,208, while Fappani’s stand at more than $270,000, according to Equi-Stat.

Michael Garnett & Sassy Son Ofa Gun

Co-Champion Garnett is no stranger to the reining pen, posting his first check to Equi-Statin 1993. With lifetime earnings numbering at more than $420,000, Garnett expressed his satisfaction with Sassy Son Ofa Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x Shining N Sassy x Shining Spark), a horse he said has improved each year and loves to show. 

“He’s good to be around. He doesn’t want to fight you,” Garnett said.

Sassy Son Ofa Gun, known in the barn as “Popeye,” has lifetime earnings nearing $20,000 after his High Roller success. 

According to Garnett, after a disappointing final at the NRBC, the win at the High Roller in Las Vegas was validating.