The High Roller Reining Classic celebrated its 10th Anniversary in style at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. The huge event is known for its fun-loving enthusiastic riders, talented horses, great prizes and of course the South Point’s fantastic facility. Constructed in 2006, this venue has quickly become a favorite among equestrians, and is easily recognized as the nicest indoor facility in the country. The venue could not be more perfect for the world renowned High Roller Reining Classic. Its exhibitors and spectators attend from all over the World. In its short history, it hasn’t taken long for the High Roller to reach #4 on the National Reining Horses Association’s list of Top Events worldwide. Avid reining fans from as far away as Thailand, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom have all enjoyed what the High Roller has to offer, from watching the exciting competition, shopping at the western trade show, and all the excitement the city of Las Vegas has to offer.
The tenth anniversary did not disappoint, presenting the largest entry participation since its inception. “Coming into the event this year we were getting close to selling out stalls,” states Amanda Brumley, event producer and President of Brumley Management Group, LLC. “We were all really happy with the numbers going into the event. It was a good sign that this year was going to top them all!” The best of the best came to Las Vegas and horses from as far away as Ohio, New York and North Carolina were in attendance.
The first weekend of competition got underway with the Youth Tournament of Champions and the Rookie and Green High Point Circuits. Before the youth competed, the annual social bowling event was held in the South Point Bowling Center were young equestrians enjoyed three games of bowling followed by the Youth Tournament of Champions team draw. Ashley Wilson-Hammer graciously organized the youth riders again this year, keeping them ‘tuned in’ and ready to show. After they had their first day of tough competition, the youth participated in a judging seminar hosted by NRHA Judge Steve Ross. “The turnout was great,” comments Ross. “I wasn’t sure at first if the kids would show up, but the room was packed and even had people standing in the back. I think the pizza was a big hit too,” laughs Ross. The parents were extremely grateful for their kids to have the opportunity to learn so much. “So many parents came to me expressing their appreciation for this fantastic learning opportunity,” comments Wilson-Hammer. “Thanks to Markel Insurance for their support of the Youth Tournament of Champions, the free bowling, pizza and judging seminar for the youth who are the future or our sport.”
The Markel Youth Tournament of Champions paid out several thousand dollars in scholarships to the team and individual winners in addition to the beautiful gold, silver and bronze custom medallions. Anna Clausen riding FS Taris Walla Whiz, (Topsail Whiz x Shiney Walla Wanda) captured the Youth 13 & Under High Point Circuit and Shelby Clausen with her mount Smart Tinseltown, (Smart Spook x Tinseltown Lil Step) won the Youth 14-18 High Point Circuit Championship. The National Arabian Reining Horse Association (NARHA) 13 & Under Co-Champions were Nora Yearin riding Chics Dig It and McKenna Bein riding SH Karlotta. There was also a High Point tie in the NARHA Youth 14-18 between Abby Weiss riding TR Flash Flood and Claire Robertson and her mount Hollywood Spin Doctor.
Competition was huge in the Rookie and Green divisions! Over one hundred horses competed for the coveted awards. “BMG Events strive to provide the highest quality awards,” noted Dana Brumley manager of BMG Events award room. “From the custom bronze trophies, Gist custom trophy buckles, custom trophy saddles, highest quality ribbons and garlands to the horse cookies and products and gift cards supplied by our sponsors no one leaves empty handed.” The Desert Reining Horse Association (DRHA) Rookie High Point Champion Gloria Grove riding Heza Hollywood Legend (Custom Legend x LS Hollywood Chic) bested all the other exhibitors to win the Equine Oasis custom trophy saddle, Gist trophy buckle, plaque, rose neck garland and lots of horse cookies.
Another of the event’s largest classes was the Limited Non Pro with over one hundred in the draw, two days of challenging competition featuring several scores over 72. Kylie Robinson and Wimpys Tonnob (Wimpys Little Step x Powder Playgirl) achieved the Limited Non Pro High Point Championship and the Bob’s Custom Saddles Trophy saddle. Tabitha Sternberg and FS Gunner Got Lucky (Gunner x My Lucky Moonstone) gave it her all to win the Reserve High Point Championship Gist trophy buckle.
The weekend also feature the NARHA Arabian and Half Arabian Futurities. Congratulations to Patrick Flaherty and LJ Maverick (Al Marah Matt Dillon x Mild Beauty), owned by 4-Lazy-J Arizona for their win of the Level 4 Open Half Arabian Futurity scoring a 72 and a paycheck of $1,450. The pure bred Arabian Level 4 Open Futurity was won by another Arizona trainer Arno Honstetter riding Rumour Haz It (IBN Halabi2 x Cheyenne Starr2) for owner Dusty Morgan. Rumour Haz It also won the NARHA Level 4 Non Pro Arabian/Half Arabian Futurity with rider Linda Jacobs adding an additional $1800 in prize money to their winnings. The NARHA offers Arabian and Half Arabian competitors an avenue to show off their talented horses and win big money and prizes. In 2018 the first year of the NARHA Incentive Program kicks in offering over $30,000 in added prize money to the NARHA Futurities at the High Roller Reining Classic. Many thanks to Eleanor Hamilton Arabians for sponsoring these events in 2018. Eleanor is a long time breeder of Arabian working western horses, with multiple Scottsdale Arabian Show Futurity Champions and National Champions.
The second half of the event featured the SmartPak Non Pro Maturity, Tamarack Ranch 3 Year Old Futurity, Whizkey N Diamonds 4 Year Old Stakes, Protect the Harvest Non Pro Derby and Lucas Oil Open Derby all with a combined added prize money of $346,000. The excitement was palpable as the competition kicked off Tuesday with the Tamarack Ranch Non Pro Futurity. Kim Muehlstaetter riding Spooks Grand Slam (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Shiney Diamond Lady) repeated her win from Reining by the Bay to take the Level 4 Championship earning $3,971.53. Muehlstaetter is no new comer to the winners circle and has high hopes for this special horse. “I bought him from Dianne Beckman about a year ago,” comments Muehlstaetter. “Edwardo Salgado had him and told me I should really try him. I knew I loved him as soon as I loped off. Murry (Spooks Grand Slam) is really smart, but a bit tricky because he is scared of other horses in the warm up pen. When he goes into the show pen he totally relaxes, opposite of many other horses. He is just happy to be in the arena alone. He wants to show and gives me everything I ask. He has a lot of spark, but is quiet minded. A perfect combination. I’m really looking forward to the NRHA Futurity. He is my only Futurity horses this year. “ Kylie Warn riding Lenas Shining Gun (Gunners Special Nite x SL Lenas Chick) swept the competition taking reserve in the Level 4 and tying to win the Level 2 and 3 with Jennifer Gilliam and Chexy And Smart (Smart Like Juice x Whiz Out Chex). Warn’s combined winnings came to $5,761.33 and Gilliam’s payout was $3,343.88 as she did not enter the Level 4 division. Level 1 Champion went to Robyn Schiller and Magnanimous (Magnum Chic Dream x Roxana Chex) and tied for fifth in the Level 2, combined earnings $1,170.01.
A highlight of the High Roller Reining Classic is the live commentary. Affectionately named the “Bob and Al Show” world renowned horsemen Bob Avila and Al Dunning spend time discussing runs, enjoying time with guest speakers and poking fun at each other at every opportunity, while Steve Ross captures exhibitor’s reactions to their performances right outside the out gate where viewers watching can get the ‘inside scoop’ on the action. Produced by Horse Show Global and Classic Video, Bob, Al and their guests also answered questions emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org from all over the world. “It was wonderful to get questions from viewers,” remarks Dunning. “We were amazed where all the questions were coming from, New Zealand, Austria, England, and of course all over the US.” “My daughter McKenzie Parkinson was at the event working in the western trade show. It was the first time she had been to the High Roller and was really impressed. Her sales were great and she commented ‘I wish all shows were like this one. So well run, fun and just overall fantastic for everyone!”
Casey Deary and his ‘routine’ of “eating a big piece of chocolate cake from the South Point Hotel’s Del Mar Deli” proved to once again put him in the winner’s circle, not on just one, but two horses. Deary repeated his 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 High Roller Reining Classic Open Futurity wins to claim the championship again in the Level 4 Tamarack Ranch Open Futurity aboard Lonely At The Top (Gunner x Wimpys Little Chic) scoring 221.5 for owners Curtis Performance Horses and a paycheck of $15,318.00. He also took the reserve title aboard Tinker With Dreams (Tinker With Guns x This Chicsdundreamin) scoring 220.5 for owner Rhodes River Ranch winning $9,324.00. When asked what the deal is with the cake Deary comments not wanting to revel his superstition, “the chocolate cake at the South Point is the main reason I go to the High Roller Reining. It’s the icing on the cake!” Danny Tremblay competed for the first time at the High Roller Reining Classic. “I came to the event a few years ago to watch,” notes Tremblay. “This year I brought several horses and we have had a great time.” Tremblay won the Level 3 on StarlightsNDiamonds (Whizkey N Diamonds x Starlights Sugarwhiz) and placed fourth in the Level 4 capturing $14,824.85 for owners High Hope Farm. Dan Huss and Xtra Prettycocktail (Wimpyneedsacocktail x Prettywhizprettydoes) scored a 217.5 to win the Level 2, tied for 9th in the Level 4, and third in the level 3. Xtra Prettycocktail is owned by Rick Christen and won a pretty paycheck of $10,992.13. Laura Johnson’s Splash Big Time (Shine Big Time x Nu Magnolia Chex) won the Level 1 and placed sixth in the Level 2 with rider Chuy Chavez claiming a check for $2,942.41.
Youth rider Shelby Clauson has had a stellar year aboard Smart Tinseltown (Smart Spook x Tinseltown Lil Step). With an AQHA Youth Reserve World Championship under her belt in August, her trip to the HrRc in Las Vegas added more titles for this talented rider. Clauson swept the SmartPak Non Pro Maturity Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 wining every division with the score of 150.50 and paycheck of $3,524.92. Michael Garnett aboard Blo Gun (Gunner x The Hot Jewel) Champions in the Prime Time and tied for third in the Level 3 and 4 divisions winning $1,856. Ann Westlund marked a 143.50 on her mount Gettin Magnumtized won the Masters division, tied for third in the Prime Time, and tied for tenth in the Level 1, 2 and 3 divisions. Maybe Lou Dunit (Definitely A Dunit x Gallant Cat) a half Arabian, owned and ridden by Gayle Pniak won the NARHA Arabian/Half Arabian Non Pro Maturity division.
A fun break in the regular competitive schedule was created by the Pony Pal Trainer Races and brought laughs from everyone once again this year. As an idea to raise funds for the Markel Youth Scholarship Program at High Roller producer Amanda Brumley purchased the ‘ponies’ for trainers to race. The Calcutta auction prior to the races pays the trainers ‘buyer’ a percentage of the money while the balance goes to the scholarship program. “As a show producer I always look for ways to raise money for the scholarships,” comments Brumley. “Having food and entertainment is a win-win to raise funds for such a worthy cause, and a great group of people. We even broadcast it live over the internet via HorseShowGlobal.com. I have a new idea for next year that will leave everyone laughing with tears streaming down their faces.” Lucchese Boots sponsored the Pony Pal Trainer Races offering a $500 gift certificate to the winning trainer and buyer. Jordan McBurney repeated her 2016 win and remains undefeated Pony Pal Trainer Races Champion. Her buyer, Jean Rhodes was very happy with her purchase, pocketing some cash for the win.
The intense anticipation of the Stakes and Derby divisions finally became satisfied when the Whizkey N Diamonds Non Pro 4 Year Old Stakes and Protect The Harvest Non Pro Derby presented 115 horses all vying for big paychecks, and amazing prizes. There were many lucky winners presenting stellar competition. Cade McCutcheon riding Custom Made Gun (Gunner x Custom Made Dunit) owned by McQuay Stables tied William Rhoads and Mega Maggie Mae (Magnum Chic Dream x Cinco De Mega) for the championship of the Level 4 Derby and paychecks of $6,441.70 each. Mandy McCutcheon rode Bailys Not Painted (Gunners Special Nite x Darlins Not Painted) placed third in the Level 4 Derby and won the Level 4 Stakes a check for $10,982.48, a custom Silver Spurs trophy saddle sponsored by Scottsdale Western World, Gist Trophy buckle, SmartPak Finalist blanket bag and so much more. Cade was equally awarded with a Jim Taylor trophy saddle sponsored by Equine Oasis.
There were a few whopping winners in the Derby and Stakes Non Pro divisions. Nick Schmersal on his home bred Gold Digging Dunnit (Pale Face Dunnit x Dun It Reining) cumulative earnings came to $19,019.80 after he won the Level 1 and 2 Derby, placed fourth in the Level 4 Stakes, third in the Level 3 Stakes, and won the Level 1 and 2 Stakes divisions. Schmersal just took the reins of Gold Digging Dunnit after he graduated college this year. His mother, Ginger, won approximately $60,000 on the horse at the 2016 NRHA Futurity and 2017 NRBC before giving him to her son. Michael Garnett on board Hollywood Nites (Gunners Special Nite x Dun It For Chex) and Tish Fappani riding her home bred Spooks N Jewels (Smart Spook x Whiz Jewels) went head to head both scoring 222 tying fourth in the Level 4 Derby, co-champions Level 3 Derby, tying reserve Level 4 Stakes, and once again co-champions Level 3 Stakes BOTH earning checks for $18,145.90. Also, Garnett was champion aboard Hollywood Nites and reserve in the Prime Time NP Derby, reserve on his second horse Snoop Around (Walla Walla Whiz x Sneaking Out Tonight). Garnett’s horse Snoop Around was also 6th Level 4 Derby, third Level 3 Derby, earning an additional $5,702.06 driving Garnett’s total High Roller earnings in these aged events to $23,847.96. Martin Muehlstaetter, Garnett’s coach, stated that Garnett told him this was ‘the best show he has ever had’ and can’t wait for next year!
The Whizkey N Diamonds 4 Year Old Open Stakes and Lucas Oil Open Derby received record entries with 142 to run. The competition was outrageously exciting. It took a minimum of a 222 to get a paycheck in the Level 4 Lucas Oil Open Derby and a 221 in the Whizkey N Diamonds 4 Year Old Stakes. One awesome run after another wowed the crowd. When the dust settled, a score of 230 grabbed the Level 4 Open Derby. Jordan Larson riding ARC Gunnabeabigstar (Gunnatrashya x Wimpys Little Chic), the 2013 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Champion owned by HDC Quarter Horses, claimed the Level 4 Derby Championship and a paycheck of $16,465.13, a Bob’s Custom Trophy Saddle, custom bronze trophy, and Gist trophy buckle. This year is the stallions last Derby year so this win was very gratifying for Larson. Thiago Boechat rode Ruf Lil Magnum (Magnum Chic Dream x Dunit A Lil Ruf) to a 223.50 to the championship in the Level 3 Derby and tied for seventh in the Level 4. Owned by Silver Spurs Equine, Ruf Lil Magnum took home a Bob’s Custom Trophy Saddle, custom bronze and a check for $12,374.58. Boechat, head trainer at Xtra Quarter Horses in Purcell, Oklahoma was very pleased with his ride. “He (Ruf Lil Magnum) is a really nice horse. He is easy to maintain. I only got him this year and he is five, but was trained by some really talented trainers. I was Level 3 Open Derby Champion on him at the NRHA Derby and now here (at the High Roller). We are still getting to know each other but so far I am very pleased with him and looking forward to next year,” notes Boechat. The next stop for this talented team is the AQHA World Show in November. When asked what he thought of the show overall, Boechat had lots of nice things to say. “This is by far the best show in the country. It is well organized and exhibitor friendly. We have a long drive coming from Oklahoma and the competition here is tough, so we have to make sure we bring the quality of horses that can bring home paychecks. This is definitely a show not to miss.” Abby Lengel, the talented assistant trainer to Casey Deary, showed the pretty mare ARC Gunna Mark Ya (Gunnatrashya x Shiney Miss Marker) to the championship in the Level 2 Derby, tied for fifth in the Level 3 for owner Jody Puno. Lengel’s accomplishment scored her a Bob’s Custom Trophy Saddle, Gist Champion buckle and check for $7,134.50. Trent Harvey and Baileys Sidekick (Gunners Special Nite x A Shining Sidekick) tied Colin Fitzpatrick riding Shiney Chexy Chic (Shine Chic Shine x TH Great Big Chex) for the Level 1 Derby and Level 1 Stakes Championships.
Those who were fortunate to compete in the Whizkey N Diamonds 4 Year Old Stakes and also cross entered into the Derby found it paid off BIG. Andrea Fappani riding Rancho Oso Rio’s stunning bay stallion Ifwhizswereguns (Spooks Gotta Gun x Ifwhizsweredollars) won the Level 4 Stakes and was reserve in the Level 4 Derby receiving a Silver Spurs Custom Trophy Saddle sponsored by Scottsdale Western World and a paycheck of $24,658.66. NRHA 4 million dollar rider, Andrea Fappani is a huge supporter of the Stakes programs. “I won $14,636.41 to win the Stakes and another $10,022.25 for reserve in the Derby, this really boosts these horses earnings as four year olds,” states Fappani. “Also many 4 year olds are just not physically or mentally capable for being competitive against older horses. For those horses, the Stakes levels the playing field.” Eduardo Salgado marked a 222 to win the Level 3 Stakes aboard The Best Gunner (Gunner x Shiney Enterprise) for owner Ubere Agro Pecuaria. The lucky team also tied for seventh in the Level 4 Stakes, tied for reserve in the Level 3 Derby, and tied fourteenth in the Level 4 Derby. Salgado and The Best Gunner earned $14,522.18 for their efforts.
Special Made Whiskey (Gunners Special Nite x Starlight Acres) ridden by Amanda Antifaer for owner Gordon Robinson marked a 220.50 to claim the Level 2 Stakes Championship, tied for fourth in the Level 3 Stakes Reserve Champion Level 2 Derby, and tied for seventh in the Level 3 Derby. Their combined total earnings $10,727.97.
The competition ended with a huge Celebration of Champions and 10 Year Anniversary Party catered by the South Point Arena and Event Center. What no one expected was the food! Fresh, made to order sushi provided by Zenshin Sushi restaurant in the South Point hotel was a feature highlight and crowd favorite. “For our ten year anniversary I really wanted to do something different and unique. The catering managers at the South Point are so great to work with. They strive to fill my ‘out of the norm’ requests and always deliver,” producer Amanda Brumley states with a smile. “For the non-sushi lovers there was cheese and vegetable trays, mini beef wellingtons, pot stickers, chicken satay skewers and two full bars set up in and around our central display area. The food was a huge hit. No one expected what was offered. They were amazed and thrilled. My goal exactly!”
The High Roller Reining Classic closed the year for BMG Events. The popular series of west coast reining competitions began with the Cactus Reining Classic, Scottsdale, Arizona in March, followed by the Wild Card Reining Challenge, Las Vegas in May, and the Reining by the Bay, Woodside, California in July. These events are all on the NRHA’s Top 15 list of worldwide events and are considered not to be missed. “I would like to thank our sponsors for their support of BMG Events, as without them, and our loyal exhibitors, these events would not exist. Rhodes River Ranch, Markel, Lucas Oil, Rancho Oso Rio, Tamarack Ranch, Xtra Quarter Horses, Silver Spurs Equine, South Point Arena and Equestrian Center, SmartPak, Bob’s Custom Saddles, Scottsdale Western World and Equine Oasis just to name a few. There are so many more I would like to mention, the list goes on and on,” notes Brumley. “It has been a blessing to be able to produce such premier events. We are very fortunate and thankful for the opportunity.”
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Provided by: BMG Events
Performance & Win Photos: Waltenberry
Candid’s courtesy of BMG Events
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