2021 NRHA European Open Derby: It’s A Win for Czechowicz and Frozen Shining Gun

October 30, 2021

Lyon, October 30–Saturday at Equita Lyon, Lyon, France, provided thrills and excitement as the 114,000€-added*-added National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Open Derby Finalists vied for the titles in the four divisions in front of a full house.

Lukasz Czechowicz

With a 227 score to beat posted by Mirko Midili in the second section, and with only two finalists left to go, Lukasz Czechowicz of Poland rode Frozen Shining Gun, a 2016 American Quarter Horse gelding by Colonels Shining Gun out of Frozen Slide, owned by Katarzyna Roleska, to a great ride paid back by the judges with a 227.5 and the Level L(4) Open Championship presented by LL Tecnologie.

“He hasn’t been very fortunate at the shows,” said an enthused Czechowicz. “We participated in several big shows but something always happened…tonight, everything went according to plans and I am so happy for him; he has always been my best horse. This year we took him to the NRHA Derby in Oklahoma City and he had a really good run in the Finals, but unfortunately, after the last stop, we backed up, so we got a zero score. I really wanted to make up for this so that he could show off what he could do and tonight I am much happier for him than I am for myself.” When asked why the talented gelding was different, Czechowicz added that he is so unlike other horses to train. “I have had the opportunity to ride some great horses, but he is on another level; his mind is very special and it was that way from the day we started him. I am really happy that Lady Luck finally turned to his favor.”

Mirko Midili riding Maytheforcebewhizyou (NRHA Three Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz x Jac Golden Faith) a 2014 stallion AQHA/APHA owned by Alberto Capello closed his run with a 227 settling for reserve honors. “This horse is really cool; the only thing is he was a little bit tired this time around,” said Midili. “I was in Germany for the Breeders Futurity last week and he stayed at home. When I got back, I had to work him a little more than usual so the program was a little different from all the other shows. I am very happy with him, and in my opinion he has yet to perform to the show of his life! I have been riding him for two years now and he just keeps getting better and better.”

Sebastiano Valtorta

Riding to the L3 and 2 Open Derby Championships with a 222 score was Sebastiano Valtorta of Italy riding Four Season Whiz, a 2013 American Quarter Horse gelding by NRHA Twelve Million Dollar Sire Topsail Whiz out of Dun It Preciously owned by Luca Mauri.

“He’s 8 years old so this was the last special event for him,” said the Italian Professional. “We didn’t make the level 4 finals but he was really fantastic, especially considering that between one special event and the other we never did any schooling runs, only go rounds and finals. At every show, it seems that every time it’s like the first time for him. I am very happy to have managed to win this last one show! Now he deserves a winter of rest and maybe next year we’ll show him in some open classes.”

220.5 was the second highest score that was awarded to two riders who tied for the Reserve Championship in the L3: Belgian Matyas Gobert riding AJ Commander Dun Gun, 2015 American Quarter Horse stallion (Colonels Shining Gun x AJ Dunnit Lady), owned by Bruno Costantini and Markus Gebert of Germany, who rode Spooks Gotta Deal, 2015 American Quarter Horse mare (NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Gun x The Rio Deal) for owner Lisa Schlatter.

The Reserve Championship in the L2 went to Roberta Dubini of Italy and Magnum Chic N Chex, who scored 218.5. The 2014 American Quarter Horse mare (NRHA Seven Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream x Buenonics Doughter) is owned by Lara Lorengo.

Lena-Marie Maas

Italian trainer Lena-Marie Maas and Gunnersbabe, a 2015 American Quarter Horse mare by NRHA Twelve Million Dollar Sire Gunner out of Shine Like A Babe took the L1 Open Championship, scoring a 217.5 for owner Bartolomeo Rubino.

“I’m really happy and so proud of this mare. She is so honest inside the show pen and she just gave me everything. I felt like she was a little bit tired, but she still tried her best, and I enjoyed the ride,” said Maas. “This season was really good for me: I had nice horses to show and they always gave me everything. Pietro Marseglia and the whole Quarter Dream team always stayed behind me. This show was a little different, not having the head trainer Nico Sicuro here as he is in the U.S. I was alone and had to manage everything, so it was even more pressure and I wanted to do well. I had the chance to go late in the draw between all the Level 4 riders, so it was an amazing feeling and I am really happy about it. ‘Barbie’—her nickname since she is so cute— will now have a well-deserved winter break and hopefully next year we can do some more derbies together.”

Two riders split the Reserve Championship scoring a 213.5: German Julia Staedele and Sweet Big Gun, a 2016 American Paint Horse (Big Chic Gun x Perfectly Sweet) owned by Simone Quaeck, and Italian Andrea Visigalli with Missing Spook, a 2014 American Quarter Horse Stallion (NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Missin The Whiz), owned by Mayla Sollima.

The €1.750-added APHA Derby L4 Open Chrome Cash Incentive Champion presented by APHA & Volker Schmitt Reining Horses—with a 227 score—was for Mirko Midili riding the double registered AQHA/APHA 2014 stallion Maytheforcebewhizyou.

Taking second place was NRHA Million Dollar Rider Cira Baeck riding Phantom Face, a 2013 stallion by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Pale Face Dunnit out of Gorgeous Like A Star owned by Maria Cecilia Fiorucci. The pair closed with a 224.5 score.

Following the Finals, NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter was pleased with the outcome of the NRHA European Derby so far. “Equita Lyon is an ideal venue for our event: I think it is wonderful for our sport to be exposed to the other disciplines and for them to see what we do at a very high level. It’s all happening here, I love that and I hope that we will be here for many years to come. I also hope that if our European members haven’t been here yet, they will come and see what this is about. There is not much more you can do to improve this event. The spectators are going crazy and the riders are really bringing it on: They are giving it all they have and we are proud to be NRHA, especially here.”



Saturday action started with the ancillary Non Pro classes before the Open Finalists stepped in the arena in the afternoon.

It took a 216.5 for German Nikolai Stiller and his 2012 AQHA/APHA mare Hollywood Gunrunner (NRHA Twelve Million Dollar Sire Gunner x Dun It For Missy) to win the $6,075-added NRHA Equita Lyon Grand Prix Non Pro. As the mare is double registered, the pair also claimed the $3,770-added American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Amateur Chrome Cash Incentive Amateur class presented by Phantom Face Dunnit.

Second place honors in the Non Pro went to Belgian Dries Verschueren riding Missedouttinseltown, a 2013 American Quarter Horse gelding by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Hollywoodstinseltown out of Miss Sliding Peppy owned by Golden Paint Ranch. The duo scored a 215.

German 8-year-old Emanuel Gebert took second place aboard Angelika Gebert’s Whiz A Lot, a 2013 APHA stallion by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz out of Lotti Vom Letter Berg, scoring 210.

Italian Gerardo Ponzio rode his stallion Big Code, a 2015 American Quarter Horse by Electric Code out of Roosterina, to a 213.5 score to top the $498-added NRHA Limited Non Pro.

French rider Paola Benoit-Cattin de Longueil and her 2005 American Quarter Horse gelding Shining Step (NRHA Twelve Million Dollar Sire Wimpys Little Step x Spark N Pretty) placed second with a 212.

Reining action will close the day on Sunday with the Grand Prix Youth 13&Under and Youth 14-18 followed by the €66,000€-added* Non Pro Derby (*subject to change in nominations), presented by NRHA Corporate Partner Markel Insurance with the support of gold sponsor NRHA Corporate Partner Cardinal Reining Horses.

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Photos by 2021 NRHA European Derby Official Photographer Wanted Photo

NRHA European Derby Media Contact:
Simona Diale/International Horse Press