Lexington, KY- Eighteen of the top reiners from the U.S. and Canada vied for team and individual honors in the CRI3* division of the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup Friday evening. Riding Reining Pattern Number 10, the best in the game went head-to-head in the Alltech Arena. An appreciative audience needed to wait until the final rider of the third and final rotation entered the ring. It was well worth the wait as Shawn Flarida and Wimps Chocolate Chip slid to a decisive four point victory.
Flarida (Springfield, OH), who won the inaugural CRI at the 2011 Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup, and Rick Clark's seven-year-old Quarter Horse gelding ran to a score of 228 on the strength of great acceleration and phenomenal slides and spins. From his bold entrance all the way to the final slide, Flarida rode like a man on a mission.
"I just had a lot of fun in this ride. You can run him and he comes right back. You can run him down there and the just say 'whoa' and he comes right back. I have a lot of enjoyment playing with this horse," said Flarida of the horse he has been riding since his three-year-old year. "This horse here, his longevity is unbelievable. He's really fun to ride."
Following directly behind Flarida in the standings, were his teammates from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Tom McCutcheon (Aubrey, TX) who collected Team and Individual Gold medals as part of the Adequan U.S. Reining Team for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games finished second riding Turnabout Farm's Chic Olena Starbuck with a score of 224. In third place was Craig Schmersal (Overbrook, OK) and San Juan Ranch's Whizs Katrina finishing on a score of 223.5.
In the team competition, the Smartpak team was crowned victors after posting a cumulative score of 664. This team was composed of McCutcheon and Chic Olena Starbuck, Mandy McCutheon (Aubrey, TX) and Shawn Stratman's Don Julio Whiz and Pete Kyle (Whitesboro, TX) and his own A Ruf Gal.
Kyle reflected the sentiments of all the reining competitors and their excitement about the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup which is run in conjunction with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone. "We really enjoy this event. We realize we want to come here and have ourselves and our horses come and look well because we are in front of a new audience."
The Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup concludes Saturday with the Reining World Freestyle Championship at 5:30pm ET. Both the CRI3* Open FEI Reining and Reining World Freestyle Championship are available to watch live and free of charge on the USEFNetwork.com presented by Smartpak. Coverage of the Reining World Freestyle Championship begins at 5:30pm ET on Saturday April 28th.
Find video, photos, news and more here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2012AriatKentuckyReiningCup/
Follow the 2012 U.S. Reining Team at http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2012Reining/
For details about the 2012 Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup visit: http://www.kentuckyreining.com/
Photo: Shawn Flarida & Wimps Chocolate Chip (Photo by Shannon Brinkman)