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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City

Junior Reining

Lil Joe Cash returns to the Jim Norick Arena, this time capturing his first AQHA world championship.

Lil Joe Cash and Andrea Fappani

Andrea Fappani wins the AQHA junior reining world championship with Russell Gile's Lil Joe Cash.

Lil Joe Cash and owner Russell Giles’ Cinderella story into the reining industry just keeps writing itself.

Three years ago, Russell fatefully laid eyes on RS Nu Money, a 2008 sorrel stallion, at the Legacy Reining Breeder’s Sale in Aubrey, Texas. She bought the son of Nu Chex To Cash and out of AQHA Superhorse RS Lilly Starlight (by Grays Starlight) for a song and swiftly changed his name to Lil Joe Cash. Two years later, Lil Joe Cash etched his name in the reining industry’s books when he and trainer Andrea Fappani clinched $150,000 and the open title at the 2011 National Reining Horse Association Futurity in Oklahoma City.

Almost a year later, “Lil Joe” sauntered his way back into the Jim Norick Arena November 10, this time at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show. As he entered, murmurs rolled through the crowd, neighbor telling neighbor, “This is Lil Joe Cash. This is last year’s futurity winner.” This was the horse who had the chance to take the AQHA junior reining world championship.

Earlier in the finals, Andrea Fappani of Scottsdale, Arizona, laid down a 220.5 point run on BH Is Packin Heat, taking the lead with the 4-year-old sorrel gelding owned by Rancho Oso Rio, also of Scottsdale.

Six draws later, Andrea guided Lil Joe through Pattern 5.

“He is such an animal that tries and tries to do every maneuver with all of his heart,” Russell said in her Journal Winning Run interview, reliving the run from a spectator’s perspective. “When they took off in the large fast, of course, he’s excellent at that. He came in for his first slow-down and he really came on cue, did that, and then his spins; his first spin was really strong. Then he headed out for circles on the right side and he was excellent on those, did a great slow-down again, and then his spins.”
 
Lil Joe had one minor bauble, admitted his owner, a car dealer from Waco, Texas.

“As he was coming across the middle, he didn’t know if he was going to change leads or slow down and you could just see it – he had a little bit of confusion there, but he came right through and did the lead change.”

But after that moment, Russell wasn’t too concerned: Andrea always shows his horses to the best of their ability and is adept at recovering from mistakes, she said.

From there, Lil Joe went back to plusing his maneuvers – two rollbacks, three stops and one back-up. Now, it was in the judges’ hands. The result: a score of 228. Two runs later, Xtra Quarter Horse’s Wimpyneedsacocktail, shown by Thiago Boechat, marked a 225.5 – close, but no cigar.

“It’s so overwhelming for me,” Russell said of Lil Joe’s young career. “I’m new to this – this is continuing in my third year of the reining industry. To think that he won the world championship is just beyond any expectations I could have at this point.”

But she couldn’t do it without a few key players, Russell said. Brent Loseke has been instrumental in Lil Joe’s career, and when the Aubrey, Texas, trainer broke the colt out, he knew Lil Joe was destined to do great things. With Brent’s suggestion that she send Lil Joe to Andrea Fappani for further training and competition, Russell did just that. Russell has many thanks for Brent’s wife, Paula, and Andrea’s wife, Tish, for their support as well.

Since Lil Joe is a stallion, he’s been doing what stallion’s do, Russsell said, and he’s ready to sire his first foal crop next spring.

“We’ve been collecting him for breedings for the 2013 season, and we’ve got his breedings ready to go internationally and he’s nominated in all the international stuff,” she said, adding that Lil Joe stands at EE Ranches Inc. in Whitesboro, Texas.

“There’s just a lot of excitement building around him because I think he’s such a natural-moving animal. He’s not forced – everything just comes really easy for him and he truly exudes the phrase ‘willfully guided.’ That’s what I’m most proud of with him.”

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