Flarida Flies To Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup Victory

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LEXINGTON, KY -- APRIL 27, 2012 -- Shawn Flarida and Wimps Chocolate Chip scored 228 points to decisively capture the CRI3* at the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup. The dark palomino Quarter Horse showed superior spins and stops as he flew around the Alltech Arena to capture the title.

"I just had a lot of fun [tonight],” said Flarida, a World Equestrian Games gold medalist. "I’ve had that horse since he was 3. He runs down and stops. I have a lot of enjoyment with that horse.”

Tom McCutcheon and Chic Olena Starbuck slid into second place (224), and Craig Schmersal and Whizs Katrina spun into a close third (223.5).

"She’s been a really great mare for me,” said McCutcheon of the chestnut Quarter Horse he started as a youngster. Her owner had been showing her for several years, but McCutcheon recently started competing her again.

"She’s just really consistent every time I show her,” McCutcheon said. "It’s hard to find a horse that age that can be that consistent.”

Schmersal’s diminutive palomino mare showed tremendous turn of foot in her run-downs and her large fast circles, and she put a smile on her rider’s face at the end of their pattern.

"She’s just a fun mare,” said Schmersal. "She’s been very consistent, and I’m happy to have her in my barn.”

The top-placed riders in the CRI3* shared in $50,000 in prize money, and the team competition garnered an additional $50,000 in prize money.

Team SmartPak (Tom McCutcheon/Chic Olena Starbuck, Mandy McCutcheon/Don Julio Whiz, Pete Kyle/A Ruf Gal) were the clear winners with a final score of 664.0, but the scores were tight to the last ride for the other five teams. Finishing second was Team Ariat Boots (Shawn Flarida/Wimps Chocolate Chip, Shane Brown/Houston Shine, and Sam Smith/Dun Its Chico) with 661.5, just half a point ahead of Team Purina (Craig Schmersal/Whizs Katrina, Shane Brown/Shepherd Star, and Jarvis Anderson/Pretty Peppy Chec).

"The [team competition] adds some pressure—I don’t want to let these guys down,” said Mandy.

"And I certainly don’t want to let my wife down. It’s plenty of pressure,” joked Tom.

Said Kyle, "We really enjoy this event. I don’t think it’s as much pressure [as some other competitions we do], but we want to come here and represent our sport because we’re in front of so many new people.”