Word travels fast each spring as the early Futurity hopefuls are seen for the first time. The prospects are weighed and measured by every eye and opinions roll through the barns as to just who will be among the top choices. In the spring of 2008, the word was out on an incredible young team of horse and rider. The horse was a beautiful Custom Crome stallion and out of that perfect broodmare cross, a Shining Spark daughter. His name was buzzed about and he was called the ‘pre-Futurity star’ by everyone who saw him. Cromed Out Mercedes had that certain something that set him apart; bright bay color, perfect balanced conformation and that extra intangible that brought all the attention. His trainer, Andrea Fappani, was one of the hot young trainers thought to be able to win on any given day. So this two-star team continued to draw attention as they prepared for the Big Event. And while Andrea was very proud of his top Futurity horse, he never lost sight of the fact that sometimes your best horse, your highest hope does not always step to the winner’s circle exactly as planned.
After two go-rounds during which Andrea and his bay superstar gathered the attention and applause of that most knowledgeable crowd of reining fans, the two-star team made their way to the finals. Every detail is critical and thought out over and over again; rehearsed and repeated. Andrea Fappani knew he had the right horse and as he entered the arena, it all felt just right. Beautiful stylish turnarounds, great circles both directions on a draped rein, flawless lead changes and big powerful stops weren’t enough that night. ‘Curly,’ as he is known, ran out of horsepower and there wasn’t enough left to take the Championship. But the bay horse had given it everything, and Andrea knew he had a Champion in the making, even as he blamed himself for the less-than-successful outing in Oklahoma City. Although the two-star team was strong finalists, Andrea was already changing gears and looking forward to the 2009 season.
Run hard and ride flawlessly are rules of the reining world. Andrea Fappani and Cromed Out Mercedes were fully capable of following those rules in April of 2009 as they stepped into the arena at the National Reining Breeders Classic. If the homework is done properly in advance, the NRBC is one of the best showcases for a young horse. It’s all in a big arena and each maneuver has to be done with precision and confidence. With the combined talents of trainer, horse and timing, the Championship title came to Andrea Fappani and Cromed Out Mercedes after a blistering score of 232 in the finals. The future was in order; a big title, a big check and more big events to come.
2009, A Winning Year
On the heels of the prestigious NRBC Championship, planning and good management brought great opportunities for the pair. Time, planning and hard work allowed them to build on the title and continue their winning ways. After a finalist finish at the NRHA Derby in June and a Reserve Championship at Reining By the Bay in July, Andrea and his superstar bay stallion took the rest of the summer to collect and freeze semen so that Cromed Out Mercedes could breed a full court in 2010. The fans were already lined up with requests for contracts, offering to breed only their best mares to this hot new stallion. To date, ‘Curly’ has over $139,000 earned with all the high-dollar spring events right around the corner. The team will be front and center at the coming NRBC and NRHA Derby along with the prestigious 2009 AQHA World Show, where they are entered in the Junior Reining class.
It is NO Fluke!
Back in the spring of 2008 when the first Futurity hopefuls were talked about and Cromed Out Mercedes became part of the buzz, it was well-deserved buzz at that. After all, this was a son of the very successful sire, Custom Chrome, who had already been titled a Million Dollar Sire and a member of the highly coveted NRHA Hall of Fame. In addition to all the winners he had sired, he was already considered a sire of stallion sons; Custom Pistol with over $233,230 earned and Custom Legend with $226,298 to his credit come to mind. Now Cromed Out Mercedes was to take his place in that group.
Add to the punch of a highly successful sire a dam’s side that is second to none in our performance horse world. Shining Spark has been a Top Sire according to EquiStat for over a decade. His direct sons and daughters are constantly in the winner’s column in reining and reined cow horse events. In recent years, more and more people are paying close attention to the Shining Spark daughters as strong producers. They seem to add their own brand of ‘bling’ to a prospect. Not just color, but style and charisma and a way of moving that draws a judge’s attention. So the combination of Custom Chrome and Shining Spark gave Andrea Fappani’s young bay stallion a double dose of everything the industry is looking for. Now we watch for the team in 2010 and the first babies in 2011. It’s going to be another generation of stars.