• Photo by Tom Hautmann

Colonels Dancing Gun Wins NRHA European Derby

The $112,700-added Colonels Shining Gun National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) European Open Derby finals closed the 2020 edition of the European event. This time, it was Colonels Dancing Gun on top.

The event, which was originally slated for last year and postponed due to the pandemic, concluded Saturday, July 4 in Wels, Austria.

The fourth draw in the second section, Nico Sicuro and Quarter Dream’s Colonels Dancing Gun set the bar by scoring a 221.5. Twenty horses later, their score held, securing the $45,000-added Level 4 European Derby Open Championship as well as the $24.300 paycheck for first place.

The talented 7-year-old stallion sired by Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] and out of Dance Little Spook (by Smart Spook), owned and nominated by Quarter Dream SRL, was in the breeding shed at Frozen Partners in Germany and then made his way to Puglia, Italy, where Sicuro is head trainer for Quarter Dream. 

As the Italian professional had mentioned following his top score in the qualifier, the Euro Derby was the first ‘real’ show together for he and Colonels Dancing Gun. 

“I am thrilled and won’t hide the fact that waiting for 20 horses to go after me was not easy,” said a smiling Sicuro. “There were quite a few strong horses and riders after us and there were a couple of maneuvers today that weren’t perfect and our score wasn’t that high. He’s a great horse and was great today, I guess I didn’t communicate too well with him and once again he proved how special he is!”

Taking reserve honors a half a point behind were 2019 NRHA European Derby L4 Open Champions NRHA Million Dollar Rider Ann Fonck and Diego Dalla Gassa’s Gunners Specialolena (Gunners Special Nite x Dolly Jac Olena x Spat Olena), a 2014 mare bred and nominated by Luigi Parise.

Levels 3 & 2 Open

The $33,800-added L3 and $22,533-added L2 Open Derby Championships were all about Italian Sebastiano Valtorta riding Four Season Whiz (Topsail Whiz x Dun It Preciously x Hollywood Dun It), a 2013 AQHA gelding bred and nominated by Luga Quarter Horses and owned by Luca Mauri. 

“Everything went according to plans even though I didn’t trust him enough in the stops and I should have!” said Valtorta. “This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime horse. He’s eight years old now, I’ve had him for the past four years and every time I’ve shown him, we placed. He’s made the difference in my career and I can’t thank him and his owner enough for all that they’ve given me.”

The Levels 3 & 2 Reserve Championship was for Dutch Petra Van Ede riding Cee U In Tinseltown (Hollywoodstinseltown x Miss Wimpy Hollywood x Wimpys Little Step), a 2014 mare bred and owned by Gisela Haas and nominated by Paulus Beurskens.

Level 1 Open

The $11,267-added L1 Championship went to Lars Suechting riding JF What A Ruf Juice (Ruf Dun It x What A Juicy Chic x Smart Like Juice), a 9-year-old stallion owned by Markus Suechting, bred and nominated by Frank Huchzermeier. 

“I would describe my ride as being very solid, not over paced and my horse gave me exactly what was needed for this show,” said the German professional. “I started him as a 2-year-old, have had him in training ever since, and he’s been good-minded and honest all the way. Every single year I earned a title with him.”

Suechting shared that a fundamental part of his and his brother’s [Markus] training program is that they try to keep their horses as fresh-minded and as well trained as they can so as to get solid scores.

Tying for the Level 1 Open Reserve Championship with a 210.5 score was Swiss Philipp Kueng riding Shine On Pretty Whiz (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Shine A Belle x Shining Spark), a 2015 gelding owned by Romina Kueng, bred by Carluccio Orsi, and nominated by Greenway Stables, and Italian Alessandro Roasio riding Il Be Automatic (Magnum Chic Dream x Hickadora x Conquistador Whiz).  

Event Review

Once the curtain fell on the 2020 NRHA Euro Derby, organizer Otto Ziefreund was pleased with the outcome. 

“The 2020 event was supposed to be held in the renowned fairgrounds in Wels, Austria. Due to the pandemic, the show was postponed to 2021 and at the very last minute was canceled,” he said. “We were very fortunate to have Helmut and Dennis Schulz offer their facility as host, and I would personally like to thank them. I never lost faith in the fact that this event could successfully be held this year; the numbers and the support of all our sponsors speak for themselves and a big thank you goes to all. I truly hope that our bid to host the 2022 NRHA European Futurity in Wels will be accepted.”