The 2018 IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA Open Futurity: Fonck rides Spook Sunburst to the Level 4 Open Championship and unofficially surpasses the NRHA Two Million Dollar Mark

An amazing night of competition in front of a full house closed the Euro 647.000-added IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA Futurity. The event not only made history by offering the highest added in Europe, it also attracted the largest number of horses ever taking part in a European reining event — over 700. Yet another National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) milestone was crossed in Cremona: unofficially, NRHA Professional Bernard Fonck crossed the Two Million Dollar mark becoming the first European to do so; Cira Baeck became Europe’s first lady reiner to cross the NRHA Million Dollar Mark and the only woman open rider to join the elite club from the Old Continent.

The two professionals from Belgium also took top honors in the Euro265.000-added Level (L)4 Open Championship; Fonck claimed the Championship and Baeck the Co-reserve title.

Fonck rode Spook Sunburst, a gelding by multiple past NRHA Open and Non Pro World Champion Great Sun Burst out of All About Spook. The duo performed to perfection; their incredible spins thrilled the crowd, as did the rest of the pattern and the fans in the stands cheered him on from the first to last maneuver. Once they closed their run, a 227.5 appeared on the score board. “This week I didn’t feel that my horse was responding the way I wanted him to, but then he started getting better and tonight he was great,” said Fonck about his horse owned by Koen Symoens and bred by Manuel Bonzano. “He is by Great Sun Burst, and reminds me a lot of his sire who I always believed would pass on his great talent. Winning the IRHA Open Futurity title this year was on my wish-list, along with claiming the individual gold at the World Equestrian Games and I have to thank my wife for being my partner in life and in business.

What wasn’t in the plans for 2018 was surpassing the two-million-dollar mark in NRHA competition, though it has always been one of Fonck’s goals. “This evening has been amazing and I have to compliment the Italian Reining Horse Association for putting together this prestigious event,” he said.

Fonck was also the recipient of the beautiful Champion’s Ring, sponsored by MS Diamonds TX, as well as a saddle sponsored by IRHA/Serafino Repetti amongst other awards. Renowned non professional and Italian breeder Manuel Bonzano won the IRHBA (Italian Reining Horse Breeding Association) Best Stallion award.

Co-reserve L4 honors with a 226 score went to Cira Baeck and NF Shining Whiz (Colonels Shining Gun x Whowhizthispeppychic), a mare owned by David Perneel/Kim Windyand bred by David Perneel and Guglielmo Fontana on Oak Smoking Face (Pale Face Dunnit x Genuine Benito Pap),a stallion owned by Giulia Amolaroand bred by Daniel Moro.

It took a 224 and a team all about Poland to win the Euro75.000-added L3 Open Championship: Lukas Czechowicz — head trainer for Roleski Ranch, and his mount CSG Copshot (Colonels Shining Gun x Finest Copyshot), owned and bred by Katarzyna Roleska, gave it all they had laying down an amazing and powerful run. “I truly gave it all I had and risked it all tonight!” said Czechowicz. “Winning with a horse that is by a Roleski owned stallion, the great ‘Jo Jo,’ who was born at Roleski Ranch and who I broke and trained is the best thing that could ever happen. This horse is an amazing athlete with a great mind but if I had to define his best quality, it’s his heart!” Roleska also took home the IRHBA incentive program Best Breeders Award trophy.

Taking reserve honors with a 223 was Italian Manuel Cortesi aboard PC Tinsel Whiz
(NRHA Million Dollar Sire Hollywoodstinseltown x PC Sliderina Whiz), a stallion bred and owned by the Cortesi family facility, owned and bred by Az. Agr. Piero Cortesi.

It was a great night for Gal Grahelj of Slovenia who conquered both the Euro20.000-added L2 and Euro10.000-added L1 Open Championships by scoring a 222.5 aboard Walla Whiz A Dun It, owned by Katja Zrimsek, between the reins. The stallion by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Walla Walla Whiz out of The Bun Is Dunwas bred by Susan Jones and is a Markel Insurance grad. “When we purchased this horse at the Markel Insurance Marketplace Sale in Oklahoma City and brought him back home, we knew he would be a good one yet, he surprised us all by turning out to be an incredible horse under every aspect,” said Grahelj who qualified his horse in four levels in the finals. “I broke and trained him myself and he’s always been very easy and extremely talented. Showing here at the Italian Futurity was in the plans and he was great for me from the qualifiers until tonight. I showed for the first time at the 2013 NRHA Euro Futurity so, taking home two titles in Europe’s most prestigious event is a dream come true.”

The reserve championship in the L2 Open division with a 219 score went to Call Me Lil Josie (Lil Joe Cash x Call Me N Hollywood), a mare ridden by Tomas Martinek and owned by Wolfgang Hammer.

Tying for reserve honors in the L1 Open Futurity with a 215 score were Lena-Marie Maas and her ER Custom Bleach (Custom Cash Advance x Snappy Bleach), a mare bred by Elisabetta Raviola, and Michael Saupe riding Smart N Surprising (NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook x Just Miss Enterprise), a stallion bred by Nuith Linthorst and owned by Daniela Saupe.

See more news

2018 IRHA/NRHA Futurity
tel. +39 0421 280252 –

The National Reining Horse Association is not responsible for information contained in this press release. Please contact the author or submitting organization for further information, requests or questions.

The Santa Hill Ranch IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA 3-year-old Non Pro Futurity

Nogue and A Whiz N Cash take it all!

The CremonaFiere oval arena lit up on Friday night as the Euro100,000-added Santa Hill IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA 3-year-old Non Pro Futurity finalists performed. Making history by being the first rider from Spain to conquer the prestigious title in Italy was Andreu Nogue Puig who took the Level (L)4, 3, 2, 1 Championships riding his A Whiz N Cash.  In a field of 40 riders across the four levels, Nogue laid down an amazing NRHA Pattern #12 paid back by the judges with a 218.5.

The young rider showed off his personality both at home and in the show arena with his positively aggressive attitude. “The most difficult moment for me was when I was home, just before flying to the Futurity. This is not an easy show: It is ‘the’ show. I kept thinking ‘it must work and I need to do well,’” said Nogue. “After all the sacrifices my family and myself did to come here, I felt it was my responsibility to do my best. In the qualifier, all went well and, on top of leading the level 1, I also qualified for the finals in all the levels so that gave me a boost and I relaxed a little bit. Tonight, before going in, I was as nervous as ever but, when the gate opened, the only thing I saw was the show pen and I thought to myself that there was no way back. I think that a competition should always be a positive experience; either you win, or you learn something important. If you don’t win, you learn; and if you do win, you also learn.”

Nogue took home four saddles, one for each level, offered by IRHA and Selleria Repetti; two bits offered by Donut Bits an Spurs for the L1 and L3 Championships; a custom-made Greg Darnall Bits & Spurs bit.

Nogue lives in Lloret de Mar, near Barcellona, and rides in a small private family-owned facility. In 2015 he started to ride reining horses under the guidance of Italian professional Eugenio Latorre, now based in Spain. In 2017 he was selected to be part of Team Spain taking part in the FEI World Reining Championships for Juniors in Givrins, Switzerland, but he could not find a suitable horse for the event. At that time, it was his present trainer Mirko Midili who saved the day. “I met Andreu and his family two years ago here in Cremona,” said Midili. “We started talking, and I understood that he was looking for a horse for the FEI World Championships. At that point, I offered him my black horse to ride; Arc Sparkle Magnetic, aka ‘Black Panther.’ Andreu and his family were thrilled and, since then, have been part of my heart.” Following the World Championships, the search for a prospect for Nogue to show in the ‘big Futurity’ began. «I saw A Whiz N Cash as a 2-year-old. He was broke and trained by Mattia Nadalini, and I loved his attitude,” added Midili. “He definitely turned out to be a great horse!”

A Whiz N Cash is by Custom Cash Advance out of A Whiz N Wranglers and was bred by Carlo Sala. His first and only show before the Futurity was the LR Prefuturity held in Manerbio where the pair won the Non Pro Futurity Championship. “Initially plans included Mirko showing him in the Open Futurity,” explained Nogue in his perfect Italian. “In the summer things changed: Mirko moved to Luga Quarter Horses and, since they gave him three horses to ride at the Futurity, he could not show any more. At that point I suggested that I could try to show him in the Non Pro Futurity and, since then, that was our new goal. In the beginning it was a disaster and I could not even lope him. He was strong but so sensitive … he as an open horse. Mirko always said that probably this was the best horse he had ever had. But it was not easy for me to build up a nice feeling with him. I just went back and forth from Spain to Italy to ride him in the weekends, up to the Futurity. I even changed my school program in order to have more time to dedicate to the preparation for this show. It didn’t take long to understand each other.”

“Andreu is a special guy,” states Midili. “He is polite, very intelligent and is an incredibly talented rider. I am certain a bright future in the show arena lies ahead of him.” Future plans for Andreu include a well-deserved Christmas vacation with his family and rest for him and his mate. Their plans for 2019 include the NRHA European Futurity and the IRHA Derby. There is no doubt that we will hear again about this special ‘Olé’ team!”

Taking the L4 and 3 Reserve Championship, a point behind Nogue, was Carlo Ambrosini and his mare Jac N Lime (Tinsel Jac x ARC Yellow N Lime) owned and by Ambrosini Quarter Horse ASD. In the quaifier, the pair claimed the fourth highest score (215.5) and they also boast the ARHA L4 and L3 Non Pro Futurity Championship.

The L2 Non Pro Reserve Championship goes to Sabine Schmid and All Niter (Gunners Special Night x Dun Made By Chic) with a 216 score. The stallion, bred by Susi Hutchins, was previously ridden and shown by Justin L. Michels in the U.S.

The L1 Co-Reserve Championship, with a 215 score, went to Mattia Cosio riding his White And Whizzy (Spat Split And White x Rooster Roohide), a stallion bred by Letizia Selvi, and Francesco Pedretti with his Could You Be The One (One Gun x Star Dun Its), an American Paint Horse Association mare bred by Claudio Carraro.

See more news

2018 IRHA/NRHA Futurity
tel. +39 0421 280252 –

The National Reining Horse Association is not responsible for information contained in this press release. Please contact the author or submitting organization for further information, requests or questions.

Italian Reining Horse Association Futurity

The Italian Reining Horse Association is currently holding it 3-4-Year-Old IRHA-IRHBA-NRHA Futurity, the IRHA-FISE Italian Championship finals, the Reiner of the Future, and other NRHA-approved classes December 7-15 at the “CremonaFiere” – Piazza Ennio Zelioli Lanzini 1, 26100, Cremona (CR).

Find them online for more details, news, and videos:
Show website
IRHA Facebook page
IRHA Futurity Facebook page

The 2018 IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA Open Futurity: Fonck rides Spook Sunburst to the Level 4 Open Championship and unofficially surpasses the NRHA Two Million Dollar Mark

The Santa Hill Ranch IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA 3-year-old Non Pro Futurity

The IRHA/NRHA 4-year-old Non Pro Futurity Finals

IRHA/IRHBA/NRHA 3-year-old Open Futurity: The finalists are determined

Irha/Irhba/Nrha 3-year-old Santa Hill/ACS Non Pro Futurity: The go-round

IRHA/NRHA 4-year-old Futurity: The go-round

2018 IRHA/NRHA 4-year-old Futurity: The go-round

See more news

2018 NRHA Futurity News

Stay updated on the 2018 NRHA Futurity at

12-2-18: NRHA Markel Futurity Sales Results

12-1-18: A Smoking Run leads to the 2018 NRHA Open Futurity Champion

11-30-18: Cool As Ice – Fappani Wins 2018 NRHA Cinch Non Pro Futurity

11-28-18: NRHA Open Futurity Finalists are Determined

11-28-18: 2018 Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships – Vol 1

11-27-18: Schmidt and Gunna Cash Ya Lead Open Semifinal / Morgan and Tracy Tinseltown Win Non Pro Go-Round

11-26-18: 2018 NRHA Futurity in Full Swing

11-25-18: 2018 NRHA Non Pro Futurity Underway

11-24-18: 2018 NRHA Open Futurity First Go Complete

11-23-19: Second Day of 2018 NRHA Futurity Complete

11-22-19: 2018 NRHA Futurity Underway

11-21-18: Freestyle Reining Returns to NRHA Futurity

11-21-18: The NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity Champion’s Ring

12-15-18: NRHA Futurity Entries on the Uptick

NRHA Futurity Entries on the Uptick

For Immediate Release – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – As reiners from across the globe pack to make the trek to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the largest reining horse show in the world, they should be pleased with preliminary entry tallies. The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Show promises to be buzzing with significant increases in this year’s aged event entries.

Overall, total NRHA Futurity entries in both the open and non pro divisions (levels 1-4) are up nearly 11% over final 2017 numbers. In the open, 398 horses will vie for the championship title (versus 370 in 2017), and 200 horses will come through the gate in the non pro (versus 192 in 2017). The following chart breaks down the entries in each level and lists the respective percentage increase.

OPEN – Entries (as of 11/15/18)

  • Level 4 = 398 (up 8%)
  • Level 3 = 305 (up 10%)
  • Level 2 = 234 (up 12%)
  • Level 1 = 176 (up 33%)
  • TOTAL = 1,113 (up 13%)

NON PRO – Entries (as of 11/15/18)

  • Level 4 = 200 (up 4%)
  • Level 3 = 169 (up 6%)
  • Level 2 = 137 (even)
  • Level 1 = 118 (up 26%)
  • TOTAL = 624 (up 7%)

Late entries and transfers between the open and non pro divisions are still possible, so these numbers may change prior to the event.

During the NRHA Futurity, the world’s best reining horses and competitors come to Oklahoma City to compete for an estimated total purse and cash prizes of more than $2 million. For more information on schedules, tickets, hotel accommodations, sponsors, and more, visit

Photo by Waltenberry