By guest blogger Deanna Beckley, photos courtesy of Caleb Tipton
The Big Sky Classic, held at the Majestic Arena in Kalispell, Montana has always been a popular show for Canadians to attend. The facilities are state of the art with roomy stalls, large warm-up pen and even bigger show arena. The show management put on a good show and are always welcoming to their Canadian neighbors.
With over $48,000 in added cash and prizes and several aged events, including a Maturity, Derby and Futurity for both Open and Non-Pro, it’s no wonder Canadians make the trip down.
This year was no different, with Canadian reiners traveling from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia to attend the event. And let me tell you they brought their A game – Canadians were at the top in every aged event.
Just to give you a forewarning, this is going to be a lengthy list of winners.
Starting with the Open and Open Maturity on Thursday, it was Amanda Antifaev of Fort McLeod, AB and Mambos Whiz who claimed the championship with a score of 147. In reserve spot was Jesse Beckley of Cranbrook, BC and Shiners Lena Oak with a 145.5.
In the Non-Pro and Non-Pro Maturity, Gina Wigen of Rathdrum, Idaho, piloted her gray gelding Stelle Estrisce Whiz to the championship with a 146.5. Although technically not Canadian, she rides out of a Canadian barn so we consider her at least part Canadian. Fellow barn-mate, Jeff Beckley of Cranbrook, BC and Nestles Chic placed fourth with a 142.
Friday night’s feature classes were the Non-Pro Futurity and the Open Derby. The Canadians had their game face on…and their cheering section ready.
Jeff Beckley and his gelding Great North Whiz (sired by Canadian sire BL Whiz Kid) put in a solid performance in the Non-Pro Futurity, winning the Stallion Stakes and Level 2 Futurity and placing second in the Level 4 with a score of 140.
Holly Kowblick of Wainwright, AB cruised her horse If Blings Yer Thing to a 139.5 to win the Level 1 Non-Pro Futurity and reserve spot in the Level 2.
The Open Derby followed and what a derby it was! With a deep field of horses, it was anyone’s guess who would win the title. It was certainly a night for Canadians. With a score of 148.5, Jesse Beckley and Shiners Lena Oak set the bar high. They were not surpassed, but they were met with fellow Canadian Jim Anderson of Stettler, AB and the mare My Gun Dun Smokin, tying for the Level 4 5/6 Year-Old Open championship with a 148.5. Beckley also picked up third place spot on the Gunner mare, Colonels Smokin Oak with a 147.
Run concurrently with the 5/6 Year-Old Derby was the 4-Year-Old Derby and Stallion Stakes. Jesse Beckley and Pepinic Whiz (sired by BL Whiz Kid) marked a 146 to secure reserve spot in both the 4-Year-Old Open Derby and the Stallion Stakes.
Beckley’s assistant trainer Shelby Mitchell gave up her Non-Pro card last winter to try her hand at the Open. Paired with The Crown Jewels, the duo had a stunning run, tying her boss with a 146 to take the reserve championship in the 4-Year-Old Open Level 4, Level 2 and Level 1 Derby.
Saturday night featured the Non-Pro Derby and the Open Futurity. Once again the Canadians would not be out done! Jeff Beckley and Nestles Chic added another Derby win to their list, with a score of 144.5, the pair secured the Level 2 championship and reserve spot in the Level 4.
Geri Greenall from Calgary, Alberta and her mount Wright Like Einstein marked a 143.5 for reserve spot in the Level 1 & 2 Non-Pro Derby.
Wrapping up the night was the Open Futurity. With a score of 146 Amanda Antifaev won her third straight futurity on Conchicador, winning the Level 4 Open Futurity.
Close behind was Jesse Beckley and Chant For Diamonds, marking a 145 to take the reserve Open Futurity Championship.
And we’re not done yet! Renee Zakaluzny of Swift Current, SK and her horse San Peppy Spook won the Level 1 Open Futurity with a score of 143.5 and placed second in the Level 2 and fourth in the Level 4.
Shelby Mitchell piloted Nic Nac Whiz (sired by BL Whiz Kid) to a reserve championship in the Open Stallion Stakes and the Level 1 Futurity.
I think that about covers it! If you would like to watch the runs go to www.nrha.tv. for a full catalog of runs from the show.The Canadians brought home over $26,000 from the Big Sky Classic! Congratulations to all the owners and riders…safe to say us Canadians will be back for next year.