Kentucky Reining Cup – CRI5*

KR Lil Conquistador wins Kentucky Reining Cup.

KR Lil Conquistador wins Kentucky Reining Cup.

By Larri Jo Starkey

When the professional announcer became ill at the Kentucky Reining Cup, AQHA Professional Horseman Pete Kyle stepped up to the mike to explain reining to the crowd. (Larri Jo Starkey photo). To see more photos, scroll to the slide show below.

With a solid 226.5 score, Shawn Flarida of Springfield, Ohio, slid into first place April 29 on KR Lil Conquistador at the Kentucky Reining Cup.

The event is the only CRI5* reining in the western hemisphere this year, with $50,000 in prize money.

Right behind KR Lil Conquistador were Miss Lil Addy Tude and Mister Montana Nic, both shown by Craig Schmersal of Overbrook, Oklahoma.

KR Lil Conquistador, owned and bred by Cheree Kirkbride of Ocala, Florida,  already had $401,027 in his bag, and his share of the prize. He’s by Conquistador Whiz and out of Smart Little Prize by Smart And Trouble.

“There’s a couple of places it could have been a little bit better but that horse has been absolutely great for me his whole career,” Shawn said of the 9-year-old bay gelding. “When a lot of horses get older, they get retired. It turns out this horse looks forward to shows. He’s sure fun to ride.”

Several of the senior horses in the cup were at the CRI2* at the National Reining Breeders Classic in Katy, Texas, just a week ago, including KR Lil Conquistador and Mister Montana Nic, the durable 14-year-old owned by the Mister Montana Nic Syndicate of Moore, Oklahoma.

“I’m lucky to have him in my barn,” Craig said.

After a 22-hour trailer ride, Shawn said, he didn’t ride KR Lil Conquistador again until just before the Kentucky Reining Cup.

“Like Craig said, it’s an honor to have horses in your barn that are that good,” Shawn said. “They’ve been through our programs, and they know us. He knows his job. I sometimes get in his way, but he knows his job.

The reining cup was a bit of a homecoming for Shawn, Craig and fourth-place finisher Tom McCutcheon of Aubrey, Texas, on Chic Olena Starbuck. All three were on the U.S. gold-medal reining team from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“I think the direction we’re going with reining, I think the publicity this brings to our sport, following up the World Equestrian Games, we all loved coming here,” Tom said. “It’s a great arena, and it’s a great opportunity for us to showcase our sport. I’m thrilled we could have such a great reining for everybody to see tonight.”

The fourth member of the U.S. team, Tim McQuay, was sixth on Rudy Dun It.

To see more Journal photos from the event, scroll to the slide show below.

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