Lyon, November 4 – A total of 38 of Europe’s best horses and riders, qualified for the 2017 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) European Open Derby finals, left their mark in the Equita Lyon Hall 6 reining arena in front of a full house as they rode for the prestigious titles.
Winning the Level (L)4 Open Championship with a 226 was Gennaro Lendi riding Spatatino (Spat O Lena x Topsail Cal Bar), a 7-year-old stallion owned, bred and nominated by Sara Fabbri. “Once again he performed for me,” said the Italian NRHA Professional. “It is almost as if he feels the competition; he always gives me more than I ask him for. He’s an outstanding athlete.”
The NRHA Professional from Italy took home the guaranteed pay check worth $15,000 for the win as well as a trailer sponsored by Cheval Liberté.
Earning the European Open L4 Derby reserve championship with a 224.5 score was multiple NRHA Open World Champion Ann Fonck aboard the past NRHA European Open Futurity Champion Made In Walla (Walla Walla Whiz x Hollywood Made), owned Chuck Klipfel and Sabine Lisec. With the 6-year-old gelding nominated by Ambrosini Quarter Horses between the reins, Fonck had earned the top score in the qualifier. The NRHA Professional from Belgium added $13,600 to her earnings for the reserve championship, $8,220 for third place riding Spook N Perla for Golden Paint Ranch, and $2,780 by tying for seventh place aboard Steve Vannietvelt and Gina De Pauw’s Gunnerlicious.
Markus Morawitz and Gunners Chic Magnet (Gunner x Wind Her Up Chic), owned and nominated by Josef and Tamara Ahorner, claimed the European L3 Open Derby championship and a paycheck worth $ 4,125. With the 6-year-old stallion bred by Oldenburg Farm LLC., the NRHA Professional of Austria posted a 221.5. “I cannot thank Josef and Tamara [Ahorner] enough for giving me the opportunity to ride this really special horse,” said Morawitz. “We won the NRHA European Affiliate Intermediate Open Championship this year and now this title. I could not be any happier!”
With a performance worth a 220.5, the L3 Open reserve championship went to NRHA Professional Sylvia Rzepka and USS Nu Spook, a 5-year-old stallion by NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook out of USS Nu Chex owned and nominated by Guenter Fellinger. Aboard the Markel Insurance Sale Graduate, Rzepka earned $2,780.
It was a special night for Lorenzo De Simone of Italy as he posted a 220.5 to win the European L2 Open championship riding Smoking Dun It (Gunner x Dun Its Déjà vu), owned and nominated by Azienda Agricola 23. “This win is very special for me because this is the first horse I rode when I started working for 23 QH,” said the NRHA Professional about the 6-year-old gelding bred by McQuay Stables. “He was very good for me tonight and I would like to thank Ann and Bernard Fonck for all their help and Manuel Bonzano for trusting me with this horse.” The Italian professional won $2,780 and added $2,003 for riding NRHA Hall of Famer Rosanne Sternberg’s Spook Shine Spook to the finals. De Simone was the only Level 2 rider who qualified for the Level 4 and Level 3 finals.
With a 217.5, NRHA Professional Verena Klein rode ND Gun Sawyer (Gunner x Codys Diamond Dun It), owned by Dragan Milenkovic and nominated by Nathalie Derua, to the L2 reserve championship. With the 7-year-old stallion, Klein added $2,366 to her earnings.
Winning the European L1 Open Derby championship with a 217.5 score was NRHA Professional Jeffrey Touroute-Thomas riding Star Shining Lady. The 5-year-old mare is owned, bred and nominated by Hannes Kirchberger and the duo brought home $2,366 for the win. The French rider also earned the L1 co-reserve championship riding Whiz For Ever (Topsail Whiz x Jacs Little Columbia). The 5-year-old stallion is owned bred and nominated by David Roux.
Tying for the L1 co-reseserve championship was French NRHA Professional Marinne Benais aboard Saturday Whiz. The 7-year-old mare by Saturdaynight Custom out of Anjolena Whiz is owned by Marinne Benais, was bred by Franco Mari and was nominated by Ambrosini Quarter Horses. Both riders posted a 216.5 adding $2,189 to their earnings.
Yet to be determined in this year’s successful edition of the Reining Internationale de Lyon are the 2017 NRHA Europea Non Pro Derby Champions and the winner of the $35,000-added NRHA Open to be held on Sunday 5.
Follow the action live on nrhaeuropeanderby.com