High Roller Reining Classic Wrap Up: Sept. 4-12, 2009

It was an exciting day of competition at the High Roller Reining Classic as the nation's best riders competed for top honors the $40,000 Open Futurity on Thursday. Nothing short of perfectionIt was an exciting day of competition at the High Roller Reining Classic as the nation's best riders competed for top honors the $40,000 Open Futurity on Thursday. Nothing short of perfection

Story originally posted by: by: Rebecca Walton

Las Vegas, NV — It was an exciting day of competition at the High Roller Reining Classic as the nation’s best riders competed for top honors the $40,000 Open Futurity on Thursday. Nothing short of perfection would garner the grand prize and that is exactly what Shawn Flarida executed aboard Whizkey N Diamonds, owned by Clinton Anderson and Kathy Worley. The pair nailed each spin, rode quickly through their circles, and slid into their stops with ease to earn a score of 221.00 and the championship trophy. The High Roller Reining Classic is the international "crown jewel" of western riding competition, and featured over $200,000 in added money and prizes. The show was held at the South Point Hotel, Casino, and Equestrian Center.

When $3 Million Elite Rider Flarida entered the ring the crowd knew they were in for a treat. He and Whizkey N Diamonds completed each set of spins with speed and precision. They then loped easily into their large circle and sat back effortlessly for their slow circle. When it was time for the duo to complete each of their stops Flarida legged Whizkey N Diamonds forward and they sent the dirt flying. The judges rewarded their excellent pattern with the day’s high score of 221.00.

"Today was really good," acknowledged Flarida after receiving his awards. "This horse is really sweet and he’s really fun to show. He walks in and he’s very docile even though he’s a big stud. Today he turned really good to the left and turned a little better to the right. For the circles, he loped off and took a big breath of air and waited for me."

Flarida continued. "During the circles to the left, I tried to run him just a little bit harder and he was good. The first stop was really nice, but he didn’t he hit the second stop as well as I thought he could. The third stop was really good though, and overall I was really happy with his performance today."

Flarida traveled to the High Roller Reining Classic from a horse show in Tulsa and is excited to have the opportunity to compete here this year. "It has been great here," he smiled. "It’s neat when you don’t have to leave the complex. You can gamble, eat, and show. I love it."

The $10,000 Intermediate Open Futurity was also held today and Gabe Hutchins earned Thursday’s win, as well as the second place prize in the $40,000 Open Futurity. He was riding Smart Documentary, owned by Robert Webb of McAlester, OK, and the pair earned a score of 220.50. The third place award during today’s $40,000 Open Futurity was presented to Andre Fappani and Custom Slidetracks, owned by Steven Simon, and the pair earned a score of 219.

Marco Ricotta and Lyle Lovett’s Fifth Avenue Shine earned the second place prize during the $10,000 Intermediate Open Futurity with a score of 218.50. The third place honors were presented to Tracer Gilson and Ima Smart Boomer Jac, owned by American West Reiners, LLC, of Scottsdale, AZ, who had a score of 215.50.

Michael Boyle was the winner of Thursday’s $7,500 Limited Open Futurity, with a score of 215.00 aboard Hick A Shine, owned by Janene Borror of Springville, CA. The second place honors were presented to Billy Williams, who rode Terre and Elden Peterson’s Colonels Smokin Oak to a score of 214. Sean McBurney took home the third place after receiving a score of 211.50 with Tin Top Kat, owned by Rhodes River Ranch of Arlington, WA.

Reining Results: Saturday, September 5 – Saturday, September 13

Leah Boylan had an exciting round Saturday aboard Whizzle Fritz, earning her the win in both Rookie 1 division and Rookie 2 division at the High Roller Reining Classic. Boylan, of Grass Valley, CA, and Whizzle Fritz earned the high score of 70.50, outshining the rest of the competition as they completed their pattern.

Boylan and Whizzle Fritz began pattern eight by expertly executing four fast spins to the left and four fast spins to the right. They then moved into the circle portion of the pattern where they pushed hard to go fast during the large circles. The pattern included three stops that Boylan and Whizzle Fritz also hit perfectly. The crowd cheered loudly as they exited the ring to the score 70.50, which none of the other riders would be able to catch.

"I’m just thrilled to have done so well," smiled Boylan after her victory. "We did really good through the first spins and our large fast circle was really good. We tried to stay faster than normal there since it’s a pretty big show and we knew that would be important. Whizzle usually likes to go pretty slow, so I had to keep him going pretty fast for the stops too. Overall he did a really great job, I’m really proud of him."

Twenty-two other competitors competed in the Rookie 2 division and three riders tied for the second place prize with scores of 69.50. Those three horse and rider combinations included Kellie Meier, of Danville CA, aboard West Coast Connection; Joshua Green, of Redmond, WA, riding Slide To Be Safe; and Renee Lieffort, of Skull Valley, AZ, with Moon Stones Finest.

The Rookie 1 division featured 26 exhibitors and four horse and rider combinations tied for the second place award with scores of 69.50. In addition to Meier and Green, Mary-Anne Van Degna riding Ruf N Dun It, owned by Bar Double C Ranch, of Cave Creek, AZ, received the second place score. Brenda Joyce also earned a 69.50 with Red White Starlight, owned by Story Book Stables, Inc, of Tucson, AZ.

Sunday at the High Roller Reining Classic the Non-Pro divisions competed, and Shaunda Ruckman, of Phoenix, AZ, rocked the arena aboard Peppy As Einstein to claim the Non-Pro division and the Intermediate Non-Pro division wins. The pair was fast and precise throughout their pattern and it showed in their score of 72.50, which was the highest of day.

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Ruckman and Peppy As Einstein performed each maneuver in pattern four with speed, precision, and grace. They picked up a swift canter on the right lead for their large opening circles and easily moved into their spins. Ruckman and Peppy As Einstein then repeated these moves on the left lead. The pair then kept up their momentum for the figure eight, easily executing each lead change. They completed the final three stops and rollback easily, and left the ring to the sounds of whistles and applause. Ruckman and Peppy As Einstein received the day’s highest score of 72.50.

"I’m very excited, he was awesome today," beamed Ruckman after her win. "He was really dialed in and he felt awesome. During each part of the pattern he waited for me and he took really good care of me."

Three riders tied for Sunday’s second place prize during the Non-Pro division with scores of 71.00. Debi Murnan, of Grass Valley, CA, and Ruf Cut Pine had an excellent showing during today’s class. Lindy A LongFellow, of Handford, CA expertly maneuvered Peppy Chic Finale through pattern four to receive the score of 71.00. Patrick A Yancey, of Ione, CA, was aboard Kim Yancey’s Remchic Yankee and also placed second during today’s division.

There was a two-way tie during Sunday’s Intermediate Non-Pro division between Patrick Yancey and Ashley Anixter, of Scottsdale, CA. Anixter was aboard Whiz Bing Bang Boom, and both riders received the second highest score of the day, a 71.00.

It was another exciting day of competition at the High Roller Reining Classic where 16 riders competed for top prizes in the Open division on Monday. Matt Mills garnered the blue ribbon for his ride aboard Whiz Bing Bang Boom, owned by Ashley Anixter of Scottsdale, AZ. The pair owned the arena as soon as they cantered in to begin their pattern, and earned the day’s high score of 73.00 to win the class.

Mills made his mark when he entered the ring with Whiz Bing Bang Boom. The pair glided through each movement and hit their marks with precision to receive a score of 73.00. Shawn Church tried to catch Mills’ score with Little Devil Whiz, owned by Megan Woodley of Silverton, OR. They met each of the pattern’s challenges but were not quite able to catch up to Mills, earning a score of 72.00 and the third place prize. Church was not ready to give up yet and took to the arena with his final mount, Smartest Shiner Yet, owned by Cindy Woodley of Silverton, OR. The duo moved well through the spins, circles, and stops, but their score of 72.50 would earn them the second place honors, sealing Mills’ victory.

Mills had a lot of confidence in Whiz Bing Bang Boom for today’s Open division. "I’ve shown this horse a lot and he’s always been pretty reliable," he explained. "Since we had pattern ten where you run in and stop first I ran my horse in pretty hard. He stops good and backs up good, so he felt like he hit that pretty well."

"During the spins I thought he spun a little better to the left for me," continued Mills. "The right set of circles he was really good for me and was exactly where I wanted him to be, so I felt like I got some points there. He wasn’t very good through the left circles, but when we got to the stops he just went down and does what he always does, that horse always stops really well."

For the second day in a row the high score at the High Roller Reining Classic was awarded to Whiz Bing Bang Boom. Tuesday owner Ashley Anixter, of Scottsdale, AZ, earned a score of 72.50 aboard the talented gelding, claiming the Intermediate Non-Pro division and the Limited Non-Pro division blue ribbons.

As the last rider to complete today’s pattern Anixter knew that she would need to be perfect to top the previous scores, and that is exactly what she did. The pair was fast and precise through each piece of the pattern and the judges awarded them the day’s high score of 72.50.

"My plan for today was to go faster then I did on Sunday," said Anixter. "I really wanted to go out and run him as best as I could. Our spins were really good, and during the left circles I tried to run really fast. Going into the right circles he changed leads and slowed down really well for me so I got to kick some slack out which was kind of nice. When we came down the side he ran really straight and got a nice build and rolled-back really nice for me. I couldn’t be any happier with him."

Tuesday, during the Intermediate Non-Pro division Gina Hunter, of Manteca, CA, followed Anixter to earn the second place ribbon aboard VR Jack with a score of 71.50. There was a four-way tie for third place with all four riders receiving a score of 71.00. Patrick A Yancey rode Remchic Yankee, owned by Kim Yancey of Ione, CA, to the third place position. Tiffany Andrews, of Pleasant Hills, CA, also placed third during Tuesday’s competition aboard Jacs Pacemaker. Maria Baker, of Rancho Cucamunga, CA, and Heir To Shine took home a third place ribbon. The final third place finisher was Bob Racich, of Roberts, WI and Stengel.

There were thirty-four entries in Tuesday’s Limited Non-Pro division and four riders tied for second with a score of 71.00. In addition to Andrews, Baker, and Racich, Connie Glavis, of Granite Bay, CA, also received a second place prize for her ride aboard Good Ole Mr Wilson.

Randy Paul earned the top call in a CRI** USEF Qualifier for the second time in a row Wednesday at the High Roller Reining Classic. Paul expertly rode Taris Designer Genes, owned by Rancho Oso Rio, LLC, of Scottsdale, AZ, to a score of 147.50 to claim the division’s blue ribbon.

Paul recently claimed the CRI** USEF Qualifier victory at the 2009 Reining By The Bay competition with Rancho Oso Rio’s Starbucks Finest. Wednesday he was aboard Taris Designer Genes, and the pair quickly and carefully maneuvered their way through pattern ten to claim the top prize and continue Paul’s winning streak.

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Wednesday’s pattern began with a gallop into sliding stop, followed by spins to the right and the left. Riders then completed two sets of circles and finished with three difficult stops. Paul and Taris Designer Genes were the second horse and rider combination to enter the arena, and the pair impressed the judges my hitting each maneuver with precision and ease to earn a score of 147.50. Andrea Fappani tried to catch Paul’s score with Tinsel Jac, owned by the Tinsel Jac Partners of Guadalupe, NL, but despite their excellent spins and stops the pair fell short with a score of 143.5. Gabe Davide and Tom Foran both tied for third place with scores of 143, just half a point behind Fappani. Foran was riding Fancy Red Short Oak, owned by Copus Performance Horses, Inc. of Santa Barbara, CA, while Davide was aboard CF Glad Rags, owned by Eileen Maxinoski, of Watsonville, CA.

Paul was focused on making sure each of today’s maneuvers was clean, but he also wanted to keep Taris Designer Genes going because she can get distracted easily. "My biggest goal was to go in there and just nail down each maneuver; just do one maneuver at a time," he explained. "I wanted to make her wait in between and she let me do that so I was really happy with her. I didn’t do anything real hard but she just nailed everything."

Earlier in the day $15,000 Added Non Pro Futurity and the $7,500 Added Intermediate Non Pro Futurity were held. The top prize in the $15,000 Added Non P Futurity was awarded to Samantha Griffin and KJ Tag, owned by Lance Griffin of Dewinton, AB, who earned a score of 207.5. Kristin Foran of Santa Paula, CA and Wild Card Wrangler claimed top honors in the $7,500 Added Intermediate Non Pro Futurity with a score of 206.

The best Non-Pro riders in the country came out Friday to compete in the $10,000 Added Non Pro Derby division, but it was Kim Dooley and Wimpys Little Buddy who earned the top score of 218.50 and walked away with the prizes. The pair entered the arena confidently and easily moved through each maneuver in the pattern. When they slid to their final stop and Wimpys Little Buddy sent the dirt flying the crowd cheered loudly, knowing they had earned the victory.

Tricia Gilson, of Phoenix, AZ, was the fifth rider to complete the pattern with Magnums Enterprise. The pair had fast circles and excellent stops to quickly earn the highest score so far of 217.00. Twelve horses later, Samantha Griffin entered the arena aboard Kachina Oak Olena, owned by Lance Griffin, of Dwinton, AB. They also laid down an excellent pattern and the judges awarded them a score of 217.00 to tie with Gilson. Their tie for the win would soon become a tie for second place when the twenty-sixth horse in the draw, Wimpys Little Buddy, showed over the pattern.

Dooley and Wimpys Little Buddy took over the top spot in today’s scoring as they began their pattern with very fast circles. The pair easily moved into their spins, which they nailed as the crowd held their breath. Next, they maneuvered their way through the figure eight and made their way into the stops, which sent dirt into the air and earned them a total score of 218.50, easily moving into the lead and taking home the day’s blue ribbon.

"It was hard waiting for the rest of the class to finish," admitted Dooley. "I was draw twenty-six and there were forty-one in it, so I was just hoping that my score held-up. He circled probably the best he ever has, but I could have gotten shut-off better during the first spin. He spun really well to the right, but running him to my first stop I never really got my timing perfect. The next two stops he hit really big and it was great."

The $5,000 Intermediate Non Pro Derby was also held Friday and the top prize was awarded to one of the $10,000 Added Non Pro Derby second place finishers, Tricia Gilson and Magnums Enterprise. There was a tie for the second place prize, with both riders receiving scores of 215.50. Sarah Pickney performed an excellent pattern with Pat and Rhonda Pinckney’s Flashyverde to earn the second place honors. Ali Sollid, of Cave Creek, AZ, was also fast and precise throughout her pattern with West Coast Smart and earned a second place ribbon.

Saturday marked the final day of competition at the High Roller Reining Classic, held at the South Point Hotel, Casino, and Equestrian Center. All of the horse and rider combinations were in top form as they tried to secure the win in the $15,000 Added Open Derby, and with thirty-seven riders in the class it would take a very high score to earn the blue ribbon. Saturday was also the final day that six-year-old Sparkling Wave would be eligible to compete in a derby event, so rider Craig Schmersal decided to make sure "Sparky" left his mark in Las Vegas. The pair had incredibly fast circles and sharp stops, and the judges honored their excellent pattern with the highest score of the show, a 225.00 to earn the day’s victory.

Schmersal drew the tenth spot in Saturday’s draw of 58 exhibitors with Sparkling Wave, owned by the KCS Partnership of Overbook, OK. He knew that he would have to lay down a fast pattern that was clean and accurate to put up a score that would last the rest of the day and that is exactly what he did. The pair flew into the arena and had a perfect first stop. Schmersal and Sparkling Wave put everything they had into their spins and their circles, nailing each maneuver. As the pair began to prepare for the stops the audience knew they would be excellent and they were not disappointed. Schmersal and Sparkling Wave ran into each stop perfectly to send the dirt flying, and the judges rewarded the brilliant performance with the highest score at the High Roller Reining Classic, a 225.00.

"I feel really good because this is Sparky’s last year to show in the derbies, so that was his final derby run of his career," smiled Schmersal after his win. "I drew early and he’s been such a good horse all along that I just went out there and tried to make the best run I could make on him. I knew it was going to take a pretty good score to win so I just went for everything I could get."

Schmersal traveled from Oklahoma to compete at the High Roller Reining Classic and always enjoys the event. "It’s a great facility," he smiled. "I love that they don’t let you ride all night so you can go to dinner, you can have fun, and you can get sleep. You leave here refreshed, so its makes this horse show fun to attend."

The other top competitors during today’s $15,000 Open Derby were Andrea Fappani and Marcy Ver Meer. Fappani garnered the second place award with Shiner Olena, owned by Katazyna Roleska, of Tarnow, Poland. The pair tried to catch Schmersal’s score but fell one point short with a total of 224.00. Schmersal tied with Ver Meer for the third place honors, both earning scores of 222.50. Schmersal was aboard his second mount, Boom Shernic, owned by the Boom Shernic Syndicate of Brenham, TX, while Ver Meer was showing Gunners Special Nite, owned by the Bar Double C Ranch of Cave Creek, AZ.

The "Play It Forward" Texas Hold ’em style poker tournament was held Thursday night and the top prize was awarded to Jim Rygiol. All proceeds from the event benefited the Equestrian Aid Foundation (EAF), a non-profit organization assisting with basic medical needs funding for those from catastrophic illness or injury. FarmVet and Pfizer Animal Health graciously sponsored the tournament. All the players during at the event received gift bags with donations from Platinum Performance, Bayer Animal Health, and Leather CPR.

For more information about the High Roller Reining Classic please visit http://www.highrollerreiningclassic.com