Cremona, May 26 — The first champions of the 2023 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) European Futurity held in Cremona, Italy, were crowned on Friday night in the CremonaFiere reining arena.
Topping the field of 32 horse-rider combinations across the 4 levels was Matteo Capello of Italy riding Shya Shine. The duo had already left their mark by winning the Non Pro qualifier with a 220 score. They came back with a strong performance worth a 218.5 in the second section of the Finals, enough to win the EUR 79.953,76-Added Level (L)4 Non Pro Championship.
Capello was thrilled with his win aboard the sorrel mare by the NRHA Million Dollar Sire Sire Shine Chic Shine and out of Shyawhiz, owned by Matteo’s father Alberto Capello and nominated by Piergiuseppe Guidetti. “I am extremely happy! I never imagined I could achieve these results when we purchased her,” he said. “Last year, we won the go round at the IRHA 3-year-old Futurity and closed with the Non Pro L4 and L3 Championships. Winning here was a goal I hadn’t reached yet, so I am very satisfied. I must admit that for the Finals here I was a little anxious. I wanted to win, I wanted to prove that my mare and I were strong. Once we were in the pen, she performed great. I could feel that she was a little tired and it’s hot so that didn’t help at all, but I am proud of her as I was after the qualifier.”
Capello was quick to appreciate all the people who helped him accomplish this phenomenal result. “I must thank my family for always supporting me, my girlfriend Aurora for standing by my side, the whole Cortesi team, and in particular, Manuel Cortesi for training my horse impeccably, improving my riding, and helping me deal with some of my emotional issues.”
Claiming the L4 Non Pro Reserve Championship was Anthony De Lorenzis, who also topped the EUR 36.342,62-Added L3 division. Riding his own AC Joe Spooks (NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Lil Joe Cash x RH Vanilla Spooks), a stallion nominated by Alessandro Cazzaniga, they scored a 216.5 for the win.
“My horse was fantastic, he was with me all the way. He was ready, wanted to give it all, and he let me know that today was the day!” said an enthused De Lorenzis. “I purchased this horse thanks to my friend Ricky Nicolazzi, who is based in the U.S. He insisted I buy the stallion and he was right. He has a great heart and proves it each and every day.”
With a 216 score, Carlo Ambrosini took the Reserve honors in the L3 riding Bliss Bobette San (In Like Flinn x Docs Steady San), a mare owned by Ambrosini QH and nominated by Elisa Bregoli.
First to enter in the first section was Dries Verschueren who was happy to have fresh ground for his run. Riding GP Sparkin N Muffin (Smart N Sparkin x Cp Surprise), owned and nominated by Golden Paint Ranch, he scored a 215.5, which held to win the EUR 17.444,46-Added L2 division.
“I am so happy I could cry!” said the winner, who felt the horse was prepared already last night during his practice session. “I had to go in first, which is not everyone’s favorite, but it was a plus for me; I had a clean arena. His half-brother, out of the same dam, won the European Futurity with Bernard [Fonck] last year and I showed his father, Smart N Sparkin, a few years ago, so I am familiar with this horse’s traits. He is very similar in the way he thinks to his father. You could say he is a younger version of him,” continued Verschueren, who plans a little break for the stallion after the show. “He will be in the pasture together with my other 4-year-olds and then we will prepare for the Belgium and Italian Futurity.”
Last to go in Section 1, Elia Kompatscher and his father Alois Kompatscher’s Spookly Spark (Spark N Whiz x PL Spooks Dunit Whiz) performed a thrilling run awarded by judges a 214.5, to lead the L3 and L1 into Section 2. Their score and the duo clinched the EUR 27.135,82-Added L1 Championship as well as the L2 Reserve Championship.
“My horse was very good and behaved really well in this run,” said the young rider. “In the go round, I scored a 213 and the horse was really great. Today, in the finals, he was even better considering the fact that I have been riding him for only four or five months. My father and I had been looking for a horse for me since we had sold my previous one and he is definitely the right horse for me. We are happy with the results and we’ll see what the future will bring.” The Kompatschers purchased the stallion, nominated by Edoardo Bernardelli, from Giuseppe Bruno.
The Reserve Championship in the L1 went to Gioele Antonio Foti and his own Lampo Is Comin (SDP Justice Is Comin x A Coletta Pep). Foti scored a 213 with the stallion who was nominated by Adriano Pedretti between the reins.
Winning the EUR 1.635,51-Added APHA Chrome Cash Incentive with a 213 was Jurgen Pritz riding Little Perfect Face (NRHA Three Million Dollar Sire Pale Face Dunnit x Wimpys Little Bonita) nominated by Doris Hoeflacher. “My run was really nice,” said Pritz. “My horse was smooth and I felt that he was with me all the way. My favorite part was the run-in and stop.” After the show, Pritz plans to hand over the reins to his wife, who will show the gelding at the Austrian Futurity.
Two NRHA Million Dollar Riders tied to win the EUR 2.000-Added NRHA Open class. Belgian Professional and NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Bernard Fonck posted a 220 with Kay Schroeder’s Mello Yello Jersey (Yellow Jersey x Smart Okie Lena). “I brought this horse here because I want to show him at the NRHA Germany Breeders Derby. One of my stops was not so good, but for the rest of the run, he was relaxed and seemed in good shape. I have had him since September of last year and even though he is a stallion he is sweet and gentle. He is a great-minded horse.” Fonck also appreciated the whole show. ”I love the Italian shows. The atmosphere is great, the ground is good and after living in Italy for a long time, I love coming back to show here.”
Tying Fonck was NRHA’s newest Million Dollar Rider [unofficially] Grischa Ludwig of Germany riding Spooks Of Genius (NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz x A Spark Of Genius) for owner Margot Van Doorne. “This horse always scores well,” said Ludwig about his run. “I missed the first stop, but then we got better and better. This horse has been shown a lot with hard runs and not a lot of schooling rides, so I could feel it a little bit here and there, but I cannot really say anything bad, because we won.” About his crossing the million dollar mark, Ludwig added: “It feels great! It is about time, after 30 years of being a professional reining trainer I finally made it. This show is going to be one to remember for sure. I knew that it was probably going to happen here and that the chances that it was going to be a miss were very low so I am glad it all happened here. There are so many people I would like to thank for this accomplishment. Mainly my parents, especially my father, who passed a year ago, he was the one who helped bring me to where I am today. As for professionals, I must say that there is no one like [NRHA Professional] Don Boyd. He was always there for me in the hard times as well as the good times. He never tried to change my program but always helped me with it, and this has brought me up to this level. This was 15 years ago and we are still working together.”
Ludwig also won the EUR 3.037,38-Added APHA Open Chrome Cash Incentive which added to pushing him over the million. “We all have to work together, the AQHA, APHA, NRHA… My first reining horse was actually a paint horse, so it is even more special crossing the million thanks to this class,” added Ludwig.
Angelo Benedusi rode PL Colonelsmoking CX (NRHA 13 Million Dollar Sire Gunner x Nu Dynamite Chex) owned by Arianna Aspersi to a score of 217 to top the EUR 1.000-Added Intermediate Open.
Marie Guenser and her own Captain Spook (NRHA Eight Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Mizzen Captain) scored 211 to earn the EUR 200-Added Limited Open gold place.
Saturday action will begin at 12:00 with the 2023 World Youth Reining Cup, where Youth riders from 23 countries will compete on horses generously lent to the event by their owners. The riders have been preparing for the competition all week long and also attended several accompanying events hosted at the show.
Closing the event will be the NRHA European Futurity Finals starting at 3.30 p.m. with Section 1.
The Level 4 Open Finals will start at 7.30 p.m.
The NRHA European Futurity, open to 4-year-old horses nominated in the NRHA Nomination Program, is held during the 36th edition of the Salone del Cavallo Americano which opens officially on Friday, May 26. For further information: www.SALONEDELCAVALLO.com.
Photos by Bonaga Communication
For further information: www.NRHAEUROPEANFUTURITY.com
For results and live score: www.SHOWMANAGER.eu
For webcast: www.ANDREABONAGA.it
Simona Diale/International Horse Press
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