AQHA Professional Horseman Ross Roark led CK Mardis Gras to the 2012 AQHA performance halter mares world championship for owner Frank Berris. (Journal photo)
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by Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse Journal
It’s a bittersweet win, you could say, for Frank Berris and his “all-time favorite mare,” CK Mardi Gras.
On November 5, Frank led the 6-year-old chestnut mare to the amateur performance halter mare title at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show. One week later, CK Mardi Gras returned to the pen, this time with AQHA Professional Horseman Ross Roark at the shank and Frank watching anxiously from the sidelines.
“You know, when I show, I’m not nervous,” Frank told the Journal in his Winning Run interview November 12. “But when I see my horse out there …”
Well, it’s a whole other story.
“Here, the king of showing is Ross Roark and I’m nervous? What do I have to be nervous for?” Frank added with a laugh. Truth be told, Frank really had nothing to fear: Earlier in the day, the Monahans, Texas, trainer swept open performance halter as he led Dan E. Fox’s Intersection to the stallion title and Scott and Breda Kennedy’s gelding, Bimini Twist, also to a gold trophy.
“I told you that I love this mare,” Frank said, referring to his amateur Journal Winning Run interview the week before. “I’m back again – I am so blessed. I just thank God for everything that’s happened to me at the World Show.”
By CK Kid and out of Tardee Cool Trouble by Azzari, CK Mardi Gras was bred by Reynaldo Ramirez of Wylie, Texas. To sweep the performance halter mare titles, as she did at this year’s World Show, is an unprecedented feat for CK Mardi Gras. Frank led the chestnut mare to the amateur reserve world title in 2011, and they won the amateur world title in 2010; she also won the open reserve world championship in 2010.
Frank attributes his success to the strength of his team, which starts with his wife, Linda, and a trio of AQHA Professional Horsemen: Joey Shortino of Lutz, Florida; Jay Holmes of Sarasota, Florida; and Ross.
Next on the agenda, Frank, Joey and CK Mardi Gras will head to a show back home in Florida – the Berrises split their year between Sparta, Michigan, and Venice, Florida. While at the Florida show, the two horsemen hope to tie up the loose ends on the amateur and open performance halter mares AQHA year-end high-point titles – CK Mardi Gras is leading the nation in both. And if all goes well, Frank already has time set aside for the 2013 AQHA Convention in Houston, where he’ll accept the awards. Before March, however, you’ll be able to find him fishing the Florida waters.
Come January 1, though, CK Mardi Gras will be in new hands.
“There’s a little girl, a 15-year-old gal, that’s going to take her,” Frank said. “She’s going to do the horsemanship – she’s going to do a number of things.”
While he’s rooting for CK Mardi Gras from afar, Frank is also prodding three youth into the show pen. Since Linda, an avid and longtime competitor, was able to hook Frank on horses, he’s hoping they can pass that passion on to their three grandchildren – Alex, Tori and Cole.