First Slate of Novice Horse Open Champions Crowned at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel
The first slate of Novice Horse Open classes took place Tuesday, June 22, during the 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel. The champions received prizes, including NRHA bronzes, presented in the Adequan Arena.
Corona Tag & Trevor Dare – Novice Horse Open Levels 3 & 2 (1) Champions
Corona Tag is a special mare to a lot of people, said Trevor Dare after piloting the mare to the Novice Horse Open Levels 3 and 2 championships. The duo took the wins with a 148.5, netting $1,719 for owner Courtney Battison.
“She’s everyone’s favorite horse,” Dare said. “[Courtney] doesn’t even keep her in training anymore, just keeps her at home. I asked if I could steal her for a quick joy ride, and she said absolutely. I’m glad she let me. It was pretty neat.”
The talented mare, by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Whiz N Tag Chex out of Kachina Oak Olena, battled some lamenesses when she was younger, so she didn’t have a chance at a big career as a limited-age horse. Dare said he took his time bringing the mare along so she could heal properly, resulting in a horse that is now sound and full of talent.
“She’s got a special mind,” Dare said. “You can go and show as hard as you want to show her, then turn around, go through the gate, and she’s there to give you 100% again. She’s a really big, stylish stopper, so that’s really fun when you’re showing.”
Dreaming Of Guns & Bobby Avila, Jr. – Novice Horse Open Level 1 (1) Co-Champions
With a score of 146.5, Dreaming Of Guns and Bobby Avila, Jr. tied for the win in the Novice Horse Open Level 1, placed second in Level 3 and took third in Level 2, garnering a total of $1,744. The mare, who is owned by Richard Louis Nelson, is by NRHA Seven Million Sire Magnum Chic Dream and out of HH Steady Gun.
Avila has been showing Dreaming Of Guns since last fall. He said the mare has been slow coming along, but she has steadily improved.
“At one point, I thought she would just be a 72-type horse, but she’s been consistently marking 73s and 73.5s,” Avila said. “Her strength is definitely her circling, but she’s a big stopper. She can turn a [plus-] half, circle a [plus-] one and stop a [plus-] one. If we can put it all together, we can be really big.”
Avila plans to keep showing the mare to try and put more earnings on her. He thanked Nelson for giving him the opportunity to train and own the mare, who will eventually join her owner’s broodmare band.
“It’s great to tie with Doug and awesome to win here,” Avila said. “We took her to two shows in a row, gave her a couple weeks off and turned her out before we came here to freshen up. It really made a difference.”
Gunnatwistya & Doug Milholland – Novice Horse Open Level 1 (1) Co-Champions
After placing second in the AQHA Open on Saturday and taking top honors in Monday’s second slate of the Limited Open, Gunnatwistya and Doug Milholland earned top marks again, tying for the Novice Horse Open Level 1 with a 146.5. The stallion banked $547 for his owners, David and Lecleta Aitken.
Milholland knew “Ranger” was capable from the get-go, but the pair had some challenges to overcome when he started riding him a year ago.
“He’s a stallion, and he knows it,” Milholland said. “I knew he had talent, we just had to get on the same page and have an understanding. Yesterday and today, he started really feeling like a showhorse. I stepped him up a bit.”
Ranger is by NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya and out of Totally Dun Twistin. Milholland is looking forward to the stallion’s future now that the pair has synced up in the show pen.
“We’re not quite to the point where I can ask him for a lot in the show pen, but we’re almost there,” Milholland said. “The talent is definitely there.”