By Simona Diale
Gennaro Lendi and Yankee Gun lead Italy to the individual gold medal
In a field of 21 combinations with riders representing Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the USA, Gennaro Lendi and his Yankee Gun left their mark in the show pen with a performance resulting in a 222 and the gold medal for Italy in the individual competition.
In 2008, the very first FEI World Reining Championships for Seniors was held in Manerbio, Italy. With 16 nations entered, team Italy scored a 667.5 for the gold in front of team USA. Gennaro Lendi and Playin It Out were part of that team and they also went on to tie for the bronze medal in the individual competition. Lendi also represented his country at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games ™ in Normandy.
For this edition of the World Championships, the Italian trainer was riding Yankee Gun, a double registered American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) / American Paint Horse Association (APHA) 7-year-old stallion. Trained by NRHA Five Million Dollar Rider Shawn Flarida in the States, the reins passed on to Lendi at the beginning of last year. “Flarida, no need to say, did a great job in training Yankee Gun,” said Lendi. “I had to work the most on trying to understand how to prepare him to compete. He is extremely intelligent and very generous and at times tries to give you more than what is actually requested from him so what I had to concentrate on was ‘hooking up’ with him. This prestigious World Championship has been a fantastic experience and I am very happy and honored to have been part of it and for winning the gold for my country. In the team competition, because my horse is extremely sensitive to his surroundings and to the environment, things did not go as planned. During the two training sessions between the team and individual competitions, I tried to work on this aspect and it helped a lot. I must admit that waiting for the final result was pretty tense as I knew that the combinations left to go after me all had a chance to beat my score!”
Just as thrilled with the result was team coach Filippo Masi who is also the technical manager of the Youth and Young Riders coached by Alessandro Meconi. Masi was quick to praise Lendi and Yankee Gun’s performance. “Gennaro is a great rider and in the individual made up for his run that was not up to expectations in the team competition – where he was our anchor rider – due to a lead penalty in the circles,” he said. “This year was not particularly favourable for our team since two of our top riders, Kelly Zweifel and Mirjam Stillo, were unable to make it to Givrins. I am in any case very proud of our team riders who did their very best with reserve rider Giovanni Masi and Pier Luigi Chioldo pulling in. As far as the Juniors and Young Riders are concerned, their motivation and understanding of FEI rules is impeccable and we are all extremely proud of them and their performances here.” Italy was 4th in the World Championships for Seniors and took the team gold in the SVAG FEI European Reining Championship for Juniors as well as team and individual silver in the Young Riders.
In front of a full house, with fans cheering for the sport of reining, excitement reigned high as some of the world’s finest reiners battled to take home the coveted FEI medals. Setting the bar was Austria’s Tina Kuenstner-Mantl and Nu Chexomatic, third to run, who posted 221.5. Once Lendi and his mount bested her score by half-a-point, nobody was able to beat the Italian rider’s score though both the Germans and the Belgians still kept their hopes high as Grischa Ludwig (GER) and Bernard Fonck (BEL) were the last two riders in the order of go.
Ludwig and Gwhiz Im Smart, team members of the German team that claimed the silver medal on Thursday, equaled Kuenstner-Mantl and Nu Chexomatic’s score (members of bronze medal winning team Austria). Fonck and Smart N Sparkin (owned by 7 Heaven Reining Horses), the duo that had performed to an outstanding 222 in the team competition and had led Belgium to team gold, closed their run with a 219.
Though the gold medal was firmly around the neck of the Italian rider, a run-off was required to determine who would take home silver and bronze. First to run again was the Austrian rider and her flashy 9-year-old Quarter Horse palomino stallion. The pair performed to a 212.5. At this point Ludwig knew that he had to play it safe aboard the 7-year-old stallion and that there was no need to aim for a high score in order to claim the second step of the podium. Performing a clean and precise run, once he closed with the last required maneuver of NRHA pattern n.9, a sliding stop - the hallmark of reining - he knew that his country would bring home the second silver medal of the World Championships and so it was. Their score was a 217.5.
The individual competition closed the 2016 FEI World Reining Championships for Seniors as well as the ‘Summer of Reining’ at the CS Ranch in Givrins, Switzerland. “Although we have been hosting the SVAG CS Classic for many years, we are very proud and honored to have hosted these extraordinary FEI events,” said Eric Obrecht, Show Manager of the event. “The best riders in the world came to the quiet town of Givrins providing the highest level of competition!”
Prior to the event, Ingmar De Vos, FEI President, had welcomed the athletes with these words: “…I’d like to wish each and every athlete the very best of luck. Enjoy not only the sport, but also the company of your fellow-competitors who share your passion…” True to the President’s words, the athletes did enjoy their fellow-competitors and definitely shared their passion for reining horses.
For complete results, please visit the official website http://www.worldreiningchampionships2016.com