The Southwest Reining Horse Association (SWRHA) Futurity has seen some tough competition throughout the week. Reiners from across the country have traveled the miles, put in the hard work and showed up in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in top form to battle it out for championship prizes and bragging rights.
On Saturday, the Futurity Open finals, sponsored by Billingsley Ford, was the highlight of the day.
Chex For Nite (Gunners Special Nite x Dunt It For Chex x Hollywood Dun It) and Franco Bertolani marked an impressive 223 to clinch the Futurity Level 4 Open Championship, worth $15,788. Bertolani also topped the go-round aboard the 3-year-old stallion.
“It’s hard when you show and you feel like you had enough horse to win so it’s a little more pressure in the finals,” Bertolani said. “I had to go a little harder. Craig Schmersal showed before me and marked a 222 so it puts a little pressure, but the horse was really good. I tried to show a little harder, but not make any mistakes. That’s what happened, and I’m very happy for that.”
Bertolani, of Cardinal Hill Training Center, has trained the stallion from the ground up and his bloodlines have been successful for them in the past, which makes the win extra special. The duo has been showing well together and plan to continue capitalizing on their momentum at the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity.
“I stay here tonight and then I have a schooling class tomorrow and I’m going to school him,” he said. “He ran pretty hard today and I want to back him off a little bit, because we have a big event in three weeks.”
Schmersal rode Diggin For Proof, who’s by Pale Face Dunnit and out of Shining Proof, to a 222 for the Reserve Championship and $9,610.
Futurity Level 3 Open
Martin Larcombe took home the Level 3 title riding Me And Julio to a score of 221.5 worth $7,648. The stallion is by Colonels Nite Special and out of Darlins Not Painted.
“[The pattern] kind of suited him,” Larcombe said. “Going in there and doing the circles got him busy from the start. He’s kind of a light-backed horse so that way it kind of gets the blood pumping a little bit and gives him a job.”
The duo has been together since December of last year, and Larcombe knew from the start Me And Julio had the potential to be a champion.
“He’s a big stopper, so that’s probably his biggest maneuver,” Larcombe said. “I took him to [the Tulsa Reining Classic] and then I’ve kind of only taken him to schooling shows and then just brought him here, so he hasn’t been shown a lot. He’s getting better each time.”
Dany Tremblay rode Starlightsndiamonds (Whizkey N Diamonds x Starlight Sugarwhiz) to the Reserve Championship, worth $4,655, in the Level 3 with a score of 220.5 for High Hopes Farm.
Futurity Level 2 & 1 Open
It was a big night for Hava Vital when she marked a 218 on Loaded Lady Bug, to claim the Futurity Level 2 and 1 championships for owner Mary Jansma. The 3-year-old mare by Hes A Loaded Gun and out of BH Lady Bug was trained by Vital, which she says makes the win an emotional and memorable one.
“I’ve had her since she was 2; I broke her. She is physically very small, so when the owner brought her down he told [Justin Mathison] this mare is especially for Hava,” she said with a laugh. “It hasn’t been easy. We’ve had tough times, but that’s horse training. It’s very special.”
Vital admits she was a little nervous before she entered the pen, but her nerves were quickly set at ease with the mare’s performance.
“I was a little scared because my boss told me to go fast, go fast,” she said. “I know I need to hold some for the big futurity [NRHA Futurity], but I just took what she gave me. I didn’t really push her extra hard, and I trusted her to come back. She’s just been so good in the show pen.”
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