The 2016 Las Vegas High Roller Reining Classic
… Drawing Equine Aces and Top Rated Players
by Christy Egan
The 2016 Las Vegas High Roller Reining Classic, is in its ninth, fabulous year at the South Point Event Center, Hotel and Casino. The fourth largest NRHA show in the world, this year’s HRRC ran from Friday, September 9th through Saturday, September 17th, and stilldraws riders and horses globally from Reining’s finest pools of talent, nearly a decade after its creation.
“There are so many levels to our wonderful sport of Reining,” says Amanda Brumley, show producer. “The High Roller Reining Classic has always been our favorite venue for including the people who love this game, from the Short Stirrup kids to the Non-Pros; from the Million Dollar NRHA professionals to teenagers and their grandparents. This show provides a challenge for everyone.”
This year’s show was up in entries, particularly the Youth group. Encouraged by last year’s Tournament and the new National Arabian Reining Horse Association sponsorship, over 60 youth signed up in 2016. Youth classes ran mornings Saturday and Sunday the first weekend. The kick-off on Friday night was the NARHA Youth Tournament of Champions Bowling and Draw Party, sponsored by NARHA Corporate Sponsor, Markel Insurance, upstairs at the South Point Bowling Center. A great turn-out added even more fun to the gathering. The NARHA Team Tournament of Champions ended on Sunday with awards for both the teams and the individual competitors. The Gold Medal Team winners each won $500 in Scholarship money. The 5-member, Olympic-style team included Custom Spook (Smart Spook x Custom Spinderella) with Luca Fappani; Cashen Big Chex (Big Chex To Cash x Doc Will See You Now) and Adrianna Adams; VLQ Friendly Fire (Forelocks Petja x Polka Jane), a purebred Arabian, and Siena Kruger; Miss Trashy Lady (Trashadeous x Miss Glenda Joe) with Sophia Polumbo, and MK Check Please (Chic Please x Devils Dry Divanita) with McKenna Bein. Custom Spook carried Luca Fappani to the individual Gold Medal and $1,000 scholarship. “I’m grateful Pat Warren leased Custom Spook to me,” says Luca, a seventh grader attending the Sonoran Trails Middle School in Cave Creek. “Custom Spook is so talented and well broke. I’m showing him at Congress in October. My mom’s horse, Premier Diamond (Like A Diamond x Sexy Chexy Nic), is awesome too. He’s the first horse I ever showed and he taught me and made me the rider I am today.” Luca, though enjoying showing horses does not want to be a trainer. “I’d like to go to the University of Southern California and study to be an Orthopedic Surgeon.”
Vintage Neptune (A Sparkling Vintage x Chic Hickory Doc) and Kate Buchanan won the Youth individual Silver Medal and $750, and Kaylee Naylor took home the Bronze individual and $500 with a tie between two of her horses, Spookamatic (Smart Spook x Shes Cowismatic) and All Natural Shine (Shiners Lena Doc x Betty Dun It). There were 19 teams at the 2016 High Roller competing for great prizes and scholarships in the NARHA Youth Tournament of Champions.
During the quieter days of Monday and Tuesday at the High Roller things livened considerably with the arrival of William Shatner riding 3 different horses in competition. The “Captain of the Starship Enterprise” rode Smart In Coryagable (Ill Be Smart x Miss Chex N Freckles) into the money in the NP Masters and the Intermediate Non Pro on Tuesday, particularly impressive when you discover he’s 86 and still riding and competing!
On Wednesday James Morgan rode Partychicatrashya (Gunnatrashya x Lenas Party Chics) to win both the levels 4 and 3 in the $21,000 Added Tamarack Ranch Non Pro Futurity. Still warm from the glow of their Level 3 Derby win at the Non Pro in Tulsa, the pair took home a handsome $6,113.13 for their efforts in Las Vegas. Dana Cohen rode Magnum Refund (Magnum Chic Dream x Alaythia) to win the $10,000 Smartpak Non Pro Maturity Level 4. The $2,500 Added NARHA Half-Arabian Futurity Level 4 Non Pro win went to Brumley Management Group’s own, Amanda Brumley and her gelding TS Mae Gossip (What It Takes+ x Janie Mae Gossip (AQHA)). TS Mae Gossip won the 2016 Scottsdale Half-Arab Reining Futurity Championship in February with Andrea Fappani. Crystal McNutt won the NARHA PB Arabian Level 4 Open with Zee Gunslinger (Al-Marah Matt Dillon x Zee Arlene). Debbie Brown, assistant trainer at Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses, Aubrey, Texas, won the Level 4 Half-Arabian Open Futurity on Arkys Smart Leo Lad (The Arkangel x Smart Leo Lady).
One of Wednesday’s highlights was the Pony Pal Trainer Races, a fund raiser for the NARHA Youth Scholarship Fund. The races featured the “LOL” antics of over a dozen well-known NRHA trainers, cute little toy pony “bikes” with very creative names and a grown-up Las Vegas Calcutta live auction of the jockeys. Several hundred people turned out to bid and enjoy the races and the free food. Several thousand dollars were raised for the NARHA 2017 Youth Scholarship Fund. After four preliminary elimination races the champion Pony Pal Trainer was Jordan McBurney and her trusty steed “Good Gravy”. Jordan’s husband Sean was so confident that Jordan would win, he battled through a bidding war to obtain his “jockey” and win $3700! Between the video and the live broadcast, the races were seen globally and crowd approval suggests it will become an annual event. If you missed the first annual HRRC Pony Pal Trainer Races, this link offers a recap of the excitement!! https://vimeo.com/183122067.
On Thursday the focus was the $80,000 Added Tamarack Ranch Open Futurity. Nearly a hundred 3-year-olds ran, testing their talents against their young peers. It was definitely the Class of the Class of 2013. As is often the case, the tension and the scores mounted as the day progressed, until mid-afternoon when Shawn Flarida and Spooks The Hard Way (Spooks Gotta Gun x Im So Anson) turned in a terrific 221 run. Most thought that was it, until about 5 pm, with just a handful of horses to go, when Andrea Fappani appeared and grabbed the prize by posting a 222 with Ifwhizswereguns (Spooks Gotta Gun x Ifwhizsweredollars). The owners, B & L Holdings LLC took home $14,662.50, while Patricia Holtzman, who owns Spooks The Hard Way, made $8,925.00 for reserve. It was a nice one-two punch for Million Dollar Equi-Stat Sire, Spooks Gotta Gun. Jordan McBurney (the only lady in the Level 4 money and the winner of the Level 3) and Gibsons Finest (Whizkey N Diamonds x Moms Stylish Pepto) tied for third with Jason Vanlandingham and Hey Joe (Smart Spook x Best Stop) by posting 220. Whizkey N Diamonds had 13 offspring in the money at the 2016 High Roller show from his first two foal crops. They posted a total of $33,267 to their sire’s credit in Las Vegas. Riders were both Professional and Non Pro. “It’s great to see other people having success with the Whizkey N Diamonds horses,” says Jordan McBurney. “They are pretty and talented. Crisp in their maneuvers, they have great strength and confidence, and they really like their job. We’re actually able to sell as good as we keep. A great place to be.” In the Futurity, Ruben Van Dorp won the Level 2 with Smart Twinkeltown (Hollywoods Tinseltown x Smartys Little Jewel) and between that and his placements won almost $13,000. Kari Klingenberg and Gunnachicya (Gunnatrashya x Millionic Chic) won the Level 1.
In 2014, the West Coast Breeders Select Sale, held during the High Roller Reining Classic, offered a handful of impressive youngsters. Now three, these horses are eligible for the 2016 WCBSS Incentive. The Incentive set aside $15,000 to be awarded to the highest placing entry purchased as a yearling through the WCBSS and shown in the 2016 HRRC Level 4 Open and Non Pro Futurity, with 10% awarded to the original yearling consignor, 45% to the owner at time of competition and 45% to the rider in the competition. In the Level 4 Open Futurity, highest placing auction graduate was Genuine Conqueror (Conquistador Whiz x Genuine Glo Chic) ridden by Austin Seelhoff, purchased by Sara Seelhoff for $10,000, and consigned by David and Becky Hanson of Clements, California. David and Becky will receive a check for $1,000 and Austin and Sara for $9,000! The Level 4 Non Pro Futurity WCBSS Incentive winner was Such A Smart Spark (Smart Like Juice x Vons Sparky), ridden by Colton Wong for his mother, Julie Olenyk-Wong, who purchased the horse for $7,500. Auction consignor Booth Ranches of Orange Grove, California will receive a check for $500, while Julie and Colton will split $4,500 for their WCBSS Incentive win. Asked when a horse sale will return to the High Roller Reining Classic, sale and event producer, Amanda Brumley stated, “This show has gotten really big. We have so much to offer our exhibitors and a long schedule, making another sale difficult to include time-wise. I would love to have another sale, but it isn’t going to happen during this event.”
Friday and Saturday blended together at the High Roller this year. There were so many top professionals, Non Pros and horses involved in the Whizkey N Diamonds 4-Year-Old Stakes Non Pro and Open, the Protect The Harvest 4/5/6 Year-Old Derby Non Pro, and the Lucas Oil 4/5/6 Year-Old Derby Open, that it ran for two, rather long days. Winner of the Level 4 Non Pro and the Level 4 Stakes with a 223.5 was Mandy McCutcheon and Special Kinda Nite (Gunners Special Nite x Cowgirl In A Benz). Between that ride and a good one on Always Gotyer Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun x Always A Dunit), Mandy collected over $14,471.01 for her Vegas weekend. Second were Rick Christen and his good mare, Msdreamy (Magnum Chic Dream x A Gal With A Gun). They took the Level 4 Non Pro second, won the Level 3, the Prime Time and the Masters, and took home $11,536.20. “I got Msdreamy in March,” Rick laughs. “We did well at our first 2 shows, not so good at Reining By The Bay, but real good at the High Roller. She’s a great mare.” Rick is quick to compare her to his great champion Skeets Little Annie and praises her run at High Roller. “The Draw was lucky,” he admits. “It was in the right order. I’ve been on the top in this game and I’ve fallen off too. It’s about the journey. What have I learned? Well,” he adds laughing. “Don’t buy a horse you haven’t ridden, and don’t buy a horse when you’re drunk!” Additional high notes in the Non Pro included Bailey Kolsun and Diamond Studded Guns (Gunnatrashya x Flo Like A Diamond) winning the Level 2, Level 3 and Level 2 Intermediate Non Pro Stakes, and taking second in the Non Pro Level 4 Stakes. Bailey collected 4 large checks and headed home with $12,653.15. Jennifer Neel and Z Martinalena (Zezes Pepto Cat x Fussy Hanky) won the Level 1 Non Pro and were second in the Level 2.
In Saturday’s enormously competitive Lucas Oil and Protect the Harvest Derby it took a score of 221 just to get into the money in the Level 4 Open. Fresh from his Futurity win, Andrea Fappani posted a winning 233.5 on Premium Vintage (A Sparkling Vintage x Starjac Miss), indicating that it was a perfect ending for the 6-year-old’s Derby career. The pair won $15,099.50. Shawn Flarida and Shine N Spook (Smart Spook x Ebony Shines) took reserve. Matt Mills and Wimps Cool Breeze (Wimpys Little Step x QHR Jamaica Express) won the Level 3, taking home $9,846.88. “He just keeps getting better,” Matt notes. “We’re going to the World and the Shoot Out and try to quality for the 2018 Equestrian Games. ‘Stoney’ is intense. Training him is about ‘less is more’. I just keep him happy. Credit goes to ‘Stoney’s’ owners Mark and Janite Dickson, Long Beach, California. It really takes a team!” Casey Deary was third in the Level 4 and won the Level 4 Stakes with ARC Gunna Mark Ya (Gunnatrashya x Shiney Miss Marker) “That mare is one of the most talented horses I’ve ever ridden,” says Casey. “I bought her as a two-year-old from Dale Harvey. Over 75% of the 1.3 million I’ve earned reining has been with mares. They take a little longer. You don’t fight with a mare and win. You have to earn their trust.” Patrick Flaherty took first and second in the Level 2 with Shiney Smart Sparks (Very Smart Remedy x Shirley Shine) and Whiz Boom Wrangle (Wrangle Whiz x Cheeky Boom). “The High Roller is just a great show,” Patrick says. “It’s huge and it keeps getting bigger. The two horses I rode couldn’t be more different. It’s easy to prepare Whiz Boom Wrangle. With Shiney Smart Sparks it’s more of a ‘head game’. Bred to be a cow horse, the physical part of this comes easy for him.” Both Deary and Flaherty had good comments about the High Roller judges, Casey noting that they judged from a positive perspective, a good thing for the Reining industry. Patrick simply said that the judges did an amazing job. At day’s end, Saar Ben Hamo rode Jac Electric Shine (Jacs Electric Spark x Lil Ruf Startime) to win the Level 1 Derby, Billy Williams and Gunnafoolya (Gunnatrashya x Berry Dun It Best) won the Intermediate Open Level 3 Stakes, and Francesco Martinotti and Legend Slides Wright (Custom Legend x She Slides Wright) took home the money for the Open Level 2 Stakes.
As usual the WPR (World Para Reining) was unforgettable. This year’s competition ran concurrent with the regular reining, something the WPR riders really liked. Briana Bartlett, winner of the Classic 2 WPR on Western Whiz (West Coast Whiz x Cameos Brite Star), agrees, “It’s less intrusive for the judges,” says Briana. “We integrated into the show seamlessly. It’s what WPR riders want. For ‘Weg’ and I, there were some real ‘personal best’ moments at the show. We added speed to our runs; set new goals. High Roller and Wild Card are my two favorite shows!”
“A great many people and some outstanding sponsors made the High Roller Reining Classic special this year,” says show organizer/producer, Amanda Brumley. “As always, there were challenges and changes at the show. We now have one of our industry’s finest live streaming show coverages via HorseShowGlobal.com, with commentators and interviewers that rank among the world’s best. At the High Roller this year HorseShowGlobal.com and Classic Video took live internet broadcasting to a whole new level. Brumley Management Group, LLC purchased HSG this year with plans to expand it in 2017. I am working closely with LaVoy Shepherd to offer events (in addition to my own) this unique coverage, similar to the WEG and Olympic Equestrian Games. In the past, coverage at this level was not cost effective for Regional events. We are developing packages that are affordable for both small shows and big events. Broadcasting equipment added for the High Roller this year allow us to switch seamlessly from the ring side commentators to the out gate interviewers, without distracting from the competition,” says Brumley. When asked about all of the “hats” she wears in business, Brumley laughs. “Yeah, I have a lot on my plate. It makes me focus on working efficiently, and multi-tasking is a must. However, it takes a top team to produce our level of customer service and quality. The High Roller is a huge endeavor, but between my staff, the folks at South Point, Lavoy’s video and Waltenberry’s camera work, we strive together to make it look seamless. That keeps down the stress and makes the exhibitors, owners and sponsors happy. We’re evolving to a new level of Reining competition, with the greatest horses, riders, owners and shows of our lifetime. It’s a very exciting time. Just wait ‘til you see what we’ve got planned for 2017!”