Reminder Claims the Open Championship as well as a spot in the 2024 The Run For A Million

November 5, 2023

The $300,595-added NRHA European Derby concluded on Saturday night in Lyon, France, with the Open Finals set in the Oklahoma Arena of Equita Lyon. A full house rewarded German Professional Dominik Reminder with a great applause after his thrilling run aboard PL Yankee Littlewhiz. The duo was awarded an impressive 230 score by the judges to claim the NRHA European Derby Open Level (L)4 Championship.

Reminder was emotional about his special win tonight and very proud of his mount. “I have no words; he is unbelievable. He has a heart of gold and gave me everything tonight. I didn’t expect to do so well at the beginning of the week, our go round didn’t go as planned, but tonight he was incredible.” The 6-year-old talented stallion by Yankee Gun out of Little Dolly Whiz is owned by Simone Zen and was nominated by Luigi Parise.

Earning the top score of the day was also Reminder’s pass for the 2024 The Run For A Million (TRFAM) Million Dollar Competition. The Lyon qualifier will go down in history as being the first held outside of the U.S. Reminder will join the riders next year in Vegas competing for $1,000,000 in prize money.

In a field of 23 horse-rider combinations entered, Reminder rose to the top of the leaderboard thanks to his phenomenal run. “It was the first opportunity for us here in Europe and I made it. I am looking forward to this so much,” he said about this special win.

The Run For A Million producer, Amanda Brumley of Brumley Management Group, was excited to welcome Reminder among the 2024 TRFAM qualified riders. “Dominik was absolutely incredible tonight. He and his horse were flawless and deserved that 230 score. It was just perfect. I really want to congratulate him and welcome him to come to America to show in Vegas.”

Belgian Professional and NRHA Million Dollar Rider Ann Fonck performed another stellar run of the night earning a 227.5 and capturing Reserve honors in the L4 as well as earning the Gunna Sparkle Novice Horse Derby Open Championship open to horses who have won less than $5,000 in lifetime earnings. Fonck praised her 8-year-old stallion Spook Unchained (NRHA Eight Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Shine Jo Lena),  for his performance. “He is just a cool show horse. Every time he enters the arena, he wants to be good. He is by far one of the best minded and coolest show horses I have ever had in training.”

The flashy buckskin is owned by Anna Reinhart and was nominated by Sabine Schmid. Fonck mentioned that the stallion didn’t have a substantial show record when she took over the reins. “Several riders showed him over the years, but he never really marked well. He had less than $1.000 in his earnings when I got him then, at the beginning of this season, the owner called me to see if I could show him during his last derby year.  We first went to a schooling show in March and did not do well at all,” shared Fonck with a laugh. After that, her husband [NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Bernard Fonck] suggested the pair give it one more try and that was a turning point for this dynamic duo. The stepped on the podium at the NRHA Germany Breeders Derby, AMERICANA, and today, at the European Derby. “He really is the coolest,” closed Fonck.

The Reserve Championship in the Gunna Sparkle Novice Horse Derby Open went to Markus Gebert of Germany who also claimed the Derby Open L3 Co-Championship as well as the L2 Championship with a 224 score. Gebert rode his homebred stallion Spooksgottacoolstep (NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz x Charly Step N Cool) owned and nominated by Gebert’s wife Angelika.

The 5-year-old stallion is a family-favorite and Gebert was very pleased with his performance tonight. “He was just awesome. He has a big heart and showed it tonight. I really liked his circles, he stopped big, and I felt really comfortable in the circles. He has a big future and we will definitely keep him in the family. We are not sure who will show him next year, in fact we might have a little family fight over him,” laughed Gebert mentioning that either himself, his wife, or their son Emanuel will show the stallion next season. “It is a family business,” closed Gebert and thanked his wife Angelika for always helping him with their horse business.

Taking the L3 Co-Championship was Italian Professional Andrea Costa aboard TR Reinman (NRHA Million Dollar Sire Shine Chic Shine x Kr Ima Gunner). The duo already took the lead in the L3 qualifier and Costa was thrilled to repeat the success in the Finals. “I am really happy with my horse. He showed even better than I expected. I am proud of him and happy for the owners as well because now they see what horse power they have. He is a special kind of horse; he can be little shy at times, especially in a busy warm up arena, and sometimes overreacts. I think that’s because he never wants to make mistakes. He is a very pleasing horse and has a huge heart. Tonight, he gave me everything and I am very happy with him,” said Costa. The 7-year-old gelding is owned by Christian-Peter Zinsli and was nominated by Tamarack Ranch LLC. After this season, Costa plans to return the reins to his non pro and TR Reinman’s main rider, Nanina Staub, who will show the gelding in the derbies next year.

Emanuel Ernst of Germany rode Wimpysdreamcometrue (NRHA Nine Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream x Sheza Smart Wimpy) to a score of 222 to earn the L2 Reserve Championship. The 6-year-old stallion is owned and nominated by Celina Stuiber.

After the first section of the Open Finals, the Derby Open L1 Co-Champions were determined. Earlier in the draw, Jody Fonck rode Sabrina Adam’s owned and nominated 6-year-old stallion Arnels Spat Olena (NRHA Million Dollar Sire Spat Olena x RS Arnels Feo Jac). The youth rider of Belgium walked out of the pen with a 218.5 score.

“This horse has an amazing mind. He is sweet and very talented,” said Fonck after her run. “I started riding him halfway through this season and we really clicked from the very beginning. He was always so nice to me.” The 18-year-old, who also won the L4, 3, 2 and Youth Euro Derby  Non Pro Championships last night, said she couldn’t believe she won the L1 Open Championship as well. “I feel amazing. I cannot think of anything better at this moment and am really happy!”

Fonck’s score held till the end of section 1 when Barbara Bayer of Austria walked in the arena aboard CSG Shining Gold (NRHA Million Dollar Sire Colonels Shining Gun x Golden Flashy Whiz), an 8-year-old mare owned by Alessandra Zotter-Gagony and nominated by Katarzyna Roleska. The duo matched the 218.5 score and the two riders opted for the Co-Championship.

Bayer was pleased with her run aboard the mare. “I was really nervous before going in today. The run in was good and, even though she normally isn’t a strong spinner, she turned really well for me. Her thing is definitely the circles and she showed it off in the slow down, so that felt really good.” The  Austrian Professional has had the mare in training since she was a 2 year old. “The owner bought her from her breeder Katarzyna Roleska and I have had her since then. Unfortunately, due to an injury, she wasn’t able to show much, but I am very happy to have her ready now as I have only been riding her constantly for the last two years. She is so nice to ride and really sweet to be around; she is one of my favorites in the barn.” Bayer wasn’t sure about the future plans for the mare. “We have to talk about it with the owner. I may show her again next year but she may also get bred. If I can, I would like to get a foal out of her in the future because she is a really special horse.”

Arnaud Girinon of France rode Honey First Gunny (NRHA Fourteen Million Dollar Sire Gunner x ARC Honey Chick) to top the $1,750-added American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Chrome Cash Derby Open Level 4 Championship scoring a 219.5 for the win. The 8-year-old stallion is owned by Societa Agricola Le Fattorie Di Matilde and was nominated by Vittorio Rabboni.

“It is a little bittersweet win,” said Girinon about his run. “My horse showed well but I believe he got a little carried away by the incredible atmosphere in the arena and got scared during the right circles. I managed to continue the run, but after the first stop he just fell apart. I am sad because this is his last derby year, but that’s what horse shows are about. Everything is about those 5 minutes you have in the arena. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose. I’m happy to have won the Chrome Cash title as it is a great opportunity for the Paint horses and my horse definitely deserves to win.” Girinon plans to take the stallion back to the show pen next year for some maturities and eventually the NRHA European Affiliate Championship after his winter break in the breeding shed.

Johannes Heil and SL Gunnabeyournite (NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Gunners Special Nite x SL Helluvas Minnie), owned and nominated by Sandra Linnig-Foehl, took the APHA Chrome Cash Derby Open Level 4 Reserve honors scoring 215.5.

Ancillary Action:

The Cheval Liberté Intermediate Non Pro was held prior to the Open Finals and it was Marisa Speidel of Switzerland who rode her own Spook Maq Doll (NRHA Eight Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Gunners Doll) to a top score of 214 to claim the win in the class.

“We weren’t very lucky in the Non Pro Derby qualifier here,” said Speidel, “so I wanted to go back and improve and I am very happy because I accomplished my goal. I was aiming for a 213 but we got an even better score, so I am happy. I was better with my riding this time, steering my horse and telling her where to go. She listened to me and was with me the whole run, so it worked out well.” About her horse, Speidel added that her mare is very lazy, so it is sometimes quite challenging to get her going. “We are figuring it out. She is super gentle and sweet and loves her job.”

Two riders shared second place honors with a 213.5 score: Gregory Morat of France riding his own Spook Design (NRHA Eight Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Designed With Shine), and Belgian Dries Verschueren riding PL Miss Gotta Whiz (NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz x Nu Chex Donna) owned by Golden Paint Ranch.

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Photos by Wanted Photo

Thank you to the 2023 NRHA European Derby Sponsors:

  • GL Events and Equita Lyon
  • NRHA Global Partners Markel Equine (Official Insurance Partner of NRHA), MS Diamonds TX (Official Diamond Partner of NRHA), Toyon Ranch, Clark’s Pump-N-Shop, Cardinal Reining Horses
  • The Run For A Million
  • LL Tecnologie
  • Quarter Dream
  • Roleski Ranch
  • Grey Stone Ranch
  • AM Rising Star Ranch
  • Gunna Sparkle
  • Nice
  • APHA Chrome Cash Incentive Program

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