Craig Schmersal Takes Home 2011 Adequan/USEF National Open Reining Championship

Joanie Morris for USEF

Tulsa, OK - A boutique group of fabulous American reining horses went head-to-head on Friday night, in Tulsa, OK, at the 2011 Adequan/USEF National Open Reining Championship, the featured evening event at the Ariat Tulsa Reining Classic. The National Championship title and top honors in the concurrent CRI3* ended up as a showdown between two teammates from the Gold medal-winning team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. These two superstar reining riders were also the WEG Individual Gold and Silver medalists.

Friday night in Tulsa they brought two chestnut mares to the occasion and Craig Schmersal turned the tables on his teammate, Tom McCutcheon, and cruised to the win on Miss Lil Addy Tude. Schmersal scored his second USEF National Open Reining Title with a score of 224.5.

The elegant 9-year-old Quarter Horse mare put in an easy and smooth effort, and her confidence in herself and Schmersal was evident. "I was glad I led Tom in this victory celebration today," said Schmersal. "He led the last one and the one before that."

Schmersal was referring to not only the World Games, but also the runner-up effort he had with KC Performance Horses' Miss Lil Addy Tude to McCutcheon in Sweden at the FEI World Reining Final in May. Schmersal felt the little mare was due for a win. "She felt good the whole time," said Schmersal. "She stopped good, she turned good. I was tickled pink about my ride. She's a good mare and I'm glad she got her picture taken tonight. She deserved it."

Turnabout Farm's Chic Olena Starbuck put in a trademark McCutcheon performance that was half a point shy of the win. McCutcheon has gotten used to winning, so settled for second but was thrilled with his horse. "The mare showed great," said the World Champion of the 7-year-old mare. "She was good all the way through. It was lots and lots of fun. She's a big, big stopper. That's her lick. She was really trying hard. She was good tonight, she was really waiting for me. She wanted to be a show horse tonight."

Casey Hinton rounded out the top three places with Play Dual Rey, who is owned by the Play Dual Rey Partners. He scored 220 and earned a Bronze medal for the effort. Chair of the USEF High Performance Reining Committee and a USEF Reining Team stalwart, Pete Kyle was fourth and fifth on Gimme Major Bucks and Whizs Bronze Star, respectively.

Another WEG Gold medalist, Tim McQuay was having a terrific ride on Hollywoodtinseltown but he picked up penalties after his second flying change and ended up sixth.

Schmersal won his first National title in 2009 with Mr Dual Rey.

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