USA Alternate Takes The Lead

Five more reiners will join individual finals at 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Special contributor to The American Quarter Horse Journal

Troy Heikes and Lil Gun Dunit earned the right to be the alternate for Team USA during the Kentucky Reining Cup. On August 28, they earned the high score in individual qualifying round during the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy. They'll advance to the individual finals August 30. (Larri Jo Starkey photo)

Once again, reiners excited the crowd August 28 at the Parc Expo arena in Caen, France.  In the second individual qualifying reining competition during the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, riders gave it all they had vying for a spot in the individual competition August 30.

The the top 15 scores (plus ties) had already earned a slot in the finals in the first individual qualifier during the team competition.

The top five scores (plus ties) from the August 28 second individual qualifier will now also advance to the finals.

In a field of 23 and with only one competitor left to go, Troy Heikes, representing the United States on an individual level, walked in aboard Lil Gun Dunit (Colonels Lil Gun-Hollywood Baby Dunit by Hollywood Dun It) and claimed the high score, a 220.  

With the 8-year-old stallion owned by Denise Bixler of Wilson, Wyoming, Troy was set on making it to the finals.

“In the first qualifier, we had a problem in his right circles,” Troy said. “He’s an honest, really good horse, so there must be something bothering him there but I tried not to concentrate on that today. Though he felt really good in all the other parts of the pattern, we did have a 1-point lead penalty in those right circles so, after that, I knew that we had to earn it back. He was really good for me and gave me all he had. Between today and Saturday, I will now have to work more on those right circles and look forward to doing the best we can the final.”

With Troy’s winning run today, the USA now has all its athletes back riding for the individual FEI medals.

In the first part of the August 28 competition, putting the pressure on was Cody Sapergia of Canada. Riding as the fifth draw on Nu Chexomatic (Nu Chex To Cash-Tejons Texie Lena by Tejons Peppy Doc), owned by Jac Point Quarter Horses of Austria, Cody set the bar by scoring a 219.  

“Today my horse was much better than he was the first day,” Cody said. “Even though there are still a couple of things we need to fix, I am confident he will do well in the final.”

Josh Collins of the United Kingdom posted the third highest score. Riding his Spook A Little (Smart Spook-Jessie Wright On by Lenas Wright On), the 24-year-old non-pro finished his run with a 218.  

“Being able to represent my country here has been my dream and my goal since the beginning of the year,” he said. “My horse was amazing for me today, and I am very proud of having made it to the individual finals.”

Placing the second horse representing Italy in the individual finals today was Stefano Ferri with Rooster Nic (Gallo Del Cielo x Sanjos Pistolette), owned by Eleonora Malerba, between the reins. “I’ve only had this horse in training since the beginning of this year and we still have to get to know each other, but today I was very happy with him,” said Stefano about the horse who – with Pier Luigi Fabbri in the saddle – took home the Silver medal for Italy in the past FEI European Senior Reining Championship in Augsburg, Germany. “I really look forward to showing him on Saturday and am really proud to be able to ride for my country.”
Also joining the individual finalists will be: Romuald Poard of France riding Peppys Ruf Sailor and Paolo Koury Neto of Brazil riding Don’t Whiz WRB (both scored a 216.5) and Laércio Casalecchi Filho, also of Brazil, riding He’s A Question QR. The duo posted a 215.5.