2022 $153,234-Added NRHA European Open Derby: Fonck and Ludwig Share the Championship

October 29, 2022

On Saturday, Equita Lyon hosted the $153,234-Added National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) European Derby Open Finals in Lyon, France. In the evening, 64 Open Finalists met to compete for the Championship titles, 19 of which competed for the most prestigious division: The $61,294-Added Level (L)4 in front of a packed audience. The high level of competition in all the divisions kept the public glued to their seats until the last set of horses where most Champions were determined.

$61,294-Added Level 4
Two of Europe’s most competitive professionals opted to share the L4 Open Championship: NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Bernard Fonck of Belgium and Grischa Ludwig of Germany. With five horse-and-rider combinations left to go, Fonck and Shines Like Spook (NRHA Seven Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x NRHA Million Dollar Dam Ebony Shines), a 6-year-old gelding owned and nominated by Rosanne Sternberg, performed to a 228 after laying down an electrifying run.

Three horses later, Ludwig stormed into the arena with M Snow Pearl (NRHA Million Dollar Sire SG Frozen Entrerprize x Spooks Pearl), a 5-year-old mare owned by Fabian Strebel and nominated by La Maqueline, between the reins. Determined to give it all they had, the duo repeated Fonck’s score, tying for the Championship.

“I think my wife [NRHA Million Dollar Rider Ann Fonck], who has always ridden this horse, did a super job with him,” said Fonck. “We actually switched horses for this event, I showed him and she showed GP A Spook In Town as I thought he would work better with her after my competing with him for four years. I did a few schooling rides with Shines Like Spook and today was the first time I rode him asking for more and he was really good. When I went in the arena tonight I was really relaxed: I felt good and my horse felt relaxed also. Before going in, my wife told me to trust him, ‘if you speed him up he’s going to be there for you; put your hand down and just go.’ I did exactly that and it worked out.”

Ludwig was just as happy with his two mounts. “It was one hell of an evening,” he commented. “I felt it was my arena. I knew that I could completely trust my horses and the level of competition was so high that I could not afford to think about how to show. I just put the hammer down, hand on the neck, and went. I wanted to finish my runs with a high score, I knew I had the horses—even though they are two completely different horses—and they were both good in the qualifier. To top it all off, here in France the people are with me even if I am not French. I must say that 2022 has been a great year!”

Ludwig also went on to clinch the $45,970-Added L3 Open Championship aboard the talented mare and also took the Reserve Championship riding Gunnit In Hollywood (NRHA Seven Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya x Buffy In Hollywood). The 6-year-old stallion, owned by Alexandra Schmitz and nominated by Giulio Trevisan, performed to a 227.

$30,647-Added Level 2
L2 qualifier leaders Quentin Galliere of France and Tinsel Whizington (Tinsel Jac x Conquistador Sis), a 6-year-old stallion owned and nominated by Sharon De Groot, repeated their success when they topped the division in the Finals, this time scoring a 223. “I feel amazing, my horse did all he could do today. We started him and trained him all the way and last year his owner Sharon [De Groot] showed him and won over $20.000 with him in the non pro classes. This year, she asked me if I wanted to show him and of course, I said yes. We began the season a little rough, he didn’t feel like he was with me the whole time, but at this show, he definitely did. He will have some time off now and I hope I can show him again next year. Today is also special for both of us because this win pushed him over $30.000 in LTE and me over $100.000, so I am truly happy. He is a really sweet horse.”

Reserve honors with a 221.5 went to Italian Stefano Cerutti and FB Topsail Shine (NRHA Million Dollar Sire Shine Chic Shine x Topsail Del Cielo), a 6-year-old mare, owned by Claudia Rizzola and nominated by Francesco Bonadeo.

$15,323-Added Level 1
It was a big night for Italy’s Filippo Paris riding Maria Cecilia Fiorucci’s Americasnextcovrgirl (NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Walla Walla Whiz x Americasnextgunmodel), a 5-year-old royally bred mare, bred and nominated by Arcese Quarter Horses USA. The pair scored a 218.5 which brought them the L1 Open Championship. Showing at a major NRHA event for the first time, Paris was quick to credit his horse for the results, as well as owner Maria Cecilia Fiorucci and the whole Elementa team. “This mare is fantastic. She deserves to be in the L4 Finals and win just that, but for me, this is my first big show, so I am really happy with the results. She helped me in there a lot, so my biggest thanks definitely go to her. I am very thankful to the owner [Maria Cecilia Fiorucci], who trusted me with her horses even though I don’t have very much experience showing. This mare is really special to me, she is like a princess. Sometimes I stay in her stall and talk to her and I know she understands me; she can definitely pull the best out of you. I’ve only been riding her for about a month and a half and I love her, so I hope to be showing her again next year. ”

With Fiorucci’s 6-year-old stallion Mister Grey Wolf (NRHA Eight Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream x NRHA Million Dollar Sire Dun It For Chex), bred and nominated by Cardinal Hill Training Center LLC, the Italian Professional took reserve honors.

LL Tecnologie European Derby Novice Horse Open
The inaugural Novice Horse Open Derby sponsored by LL Tecnologie is a division for horses that have less than NRHA $5,000 LTE (Lifetime Earnings). Canadian Professional based in Switzerland Morey Fisk and Jayson Henri’s owned and nominated by Gunny Trashy Tucker, a 6-year-old mare by NRHA Seven Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya out of Tuckers Starlight, scored a 220 to win the division. “I was really happy with the mare, she did everything I asked her to. I especially liked how she stopped, she is a big stopper. There is no particular plan for her for next year, I think we are going to breed her and then decide if she should show more,” said the Fisk about his horse. “To have the Novice Horse classes here at the Derby is great because it gives the horses another shot to do something at this major event. It was a tough qualifier this year, so this is definitely a nice bonus.” A point behind, Fisk also took reserve honors on Addys Lil Step (NRHA Thirteen Million Dollar Sire Wimpys Little Step x Miss Lil Adytude) owned by Annika Bootsman-Kleberg.

APHA Chrome Cash Incentive Program
It was an emotional night for Showgirl Shining Gun (Colonels Shining Gun x Shes A Lil Showgirl) shown by French Professional Arnaud Girinon. The flashy double-registered AQHA/APHA 7-year-old mare owned by Grey Stone Ranch closed her career in front of a full house with top honors and a 225 score which earned her the $1,500-Added APHA Chrome Cash European Derby L4 Open Championship as well as her retirement after a successful show career.

$7,958.37-Added ELEMENTA NRHA Non Pro Grand Prix
The morning started with the inaugural $7,958.37-Added Non Pro Grand Prix presented by ELEMENTA, including the ELEMENTA Non Pro and Limited Non Pro divisions.

In the ELEMENTA NRHA Non Pro, Alex Kubli riding Gunna Ruf Ya (NRHA Seven Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya x Lil Ruf Lady) took the lead with a score of 216. Stephanie Blessing and Dance Gotta Gun (NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Gun x Dance Little Spook) tied for the top score. The two Swiss riders decided to share the title be Co-Champions.

ELEMENTA NRHA Limited Non Pro class also saw two champions when French Laura Pouzol and Tricky Vobinda Whiz (CJ Whiz x RS Cayenne Jack) and Italian George Wiedenhofer and Don Magnetic (Chic Magnetic x Donnola Chex) both scored 214.5 for their runs.

€5.500-Added Cheval Liberté French Non Pro Futurity

The €5.500-added Cheval Liberté French Non Pro Futurity took place at Equita Lyon today and it was Alexandre Giarratano riding his own The Electric Bandit (Dont Miss My Guns x Electra Stop Ruff) to a score of 146.5 to win both the €3.300-added Level 4 and €2.200-added Level 2 Championships.

Special thanks to the 2022 NRHA European Derby Sponsors:
GL Events
NRHA Corporate Partner Markel Equine, Official Insurance Partner of NRHA
NRHA Corporate Partner Cardinal Ranch
NRHA Corporate Partner Toyon Ranch
NRHA Corporate Partner Clark’s Pump-N-Shop
LL Tecnologie
Quarter Dream
Gunna Sparkle
DeNiro Boot Co.
APHA Chrome Cash Incentive Program

Highlighting ancillary action on Sunday, October 30 will be the $11,369-Added ELEMENTA Open Grand Prix which will close this year’s edition of the NRHA European Derby.

Follow the webcast here:
Follow the live score here:

For further information:

Photos by Wanted Photo Press

NRHA European Derby Media Contact:
Simona Diale / International Horse Press
Cell: +39 340 5354629