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The 2021 NRBC Level 4 Open was a tie between NRHA Triple Crown winner A Vintage Smoke and Jason Vanlandingham (pictured) and Tinker With Dreams and Dany Tremblay.  • photo by Kelsey Pecsek Hruska.

No Separating A Vintage Smoke & Tinker With Dreams at NRBC

An intense week of competition at the 2021 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) culminated with a tie between two of the top reinining horses in the industry.

Dany Tremblay and Jason Vanlandingham both piloted their horses – Tinker With Dreams and A Vintage Smoke –  to scores of 228.5, tying for the win of the Level 4 Open title. With several more major events on the books for 2021, the two professionals elected to stay as co-champions.

Vanlandingham, who takes nothing for granted with respect to the caliber of horsepower underneath him, which in part played into this decision to share the championship with Tremblay rather than to run it off. “

“He’s all heart and guts and I know what I have,” he said of A Vintage Smoke. “We’re both planning on showing these horses more this year, so why waste it? They are both champions right now and we will save that run for the next one.”

A Vintage Smoke

NRHA Triple Crown winner A Vintage Smoke (A Sparkling Vintage x Lady Smoke Peppy x Mr Dual Pep) entered Saturday night’s Open finals with the chance at becoming a two-time NRBC Open Classic Champion—and pulled it off. Ridden by his regular pilot, Vanlandingham, A Vintage Smoke set the pace at draw No. 26 with a masterful 228.5 performance that held through the 34-horse field.

Making a statement with their run-in entrance and endless sliding stop, A Vintage Smoke and Vanlandingham had the audience on the edge of their seats until the end. 

“Any time I go through the gate on that horse, the crowd is great,” said Vanlandingham. “And it was no exception tonight. They were behind us the whole way. When you have a special horse—and I heard them with Dany tonight, too—the crowd can really step up and I think the horses feed off of that energy. Definitely the great horses, they step their game another level when the crowd is that involved.”

A Vintage Smoke is owned by Diane Messmer of Colorado and was bred by Karl and Debbie Hapcic. The six-year-old black stallion added $62,500 at the NRBC, which pushed his lifetime Equi-Stat record to more than $527,899.  

Of how this win compares with he and A Vintage Smoke’s first NRBC Level 4 Open title, Vanlandingham says there’s a stark contrast. 

“The first time, he was a four-year-old coming straight off a win at the Futurity and it was the young horse going against the older horses,” he said. “Now it’s the opposite. He’s the older, more mature horse but now I have to keep everything together.” 

Vanlandingham summed up the night with gratitude for the horseflesh and the opportunities that he has to make his livelihood as an elite reiner. 

“Thank the good Lord and Diane,” he said. “We are blessed to do what we do. For me to be able to it with my family and with my wife by my side, I’m just blessed.”

Tinker With Dreams

As the first horse out in the final set of Saturday night’s adrenaline-charged NRBC Open Classic Finals, Tinker With Dreams and Dany Tremblay held the approval of the crowd from start to finish to secure a dream win. 

The 7-year-old stallion sired by Tinker With Guns and out of This Chicsdundreamin (by Magnum Chic Dream)  is owned by Shane and Kalicia Walters of Diamond Dub Quarter Horses and was bred by Rhodes River Ranch. 

Tinker With Dreams and Dany Tremblay marked a 228.5 to earn the NRBC Level 4 Open Co-Championship. * Photo by Waltenberry

Tremblay, a two-time NRBC Open Level 3 Champion, who has also won a Level 4 Reserve Championship, says it’s a great feeling to earn the ultimate crown. 

“I’m glad that I did it with Shane and Kalicia,” he said. “They are great customers. They are awesome.”

Kalicia was on hand to express her mutual appreciation. 

“We are such big fans of Cilantro and Dany and the team together, so we knew this win was coming. We just didn’t know when, but I’m so glad it’s right now. The crowd was with us, we had our friends, and it was so exciting.”

Tremblay says the elite equine athlete absolutely rose to this prestigious occasion. 

“The last couple of days we really tuned up and he knew what we were here to do. He went into that pen and it was like he knew exactly what we were doing. He knows the sound of the crowd and he’s just a show horse,” said Tremblay.

Beyond high praise for Cilantro, Tremblay said, “Thank you to my team here. Thank you to Shane and Kalicia. They trust us with the horses, and they make it easy and fun.”

Beyond high praise for Cilantro, Tremblay said, “Thank you to my team here. Thank you to Shane and Kalicia. They trust us with the horses, and they make it easy and fun.”

“Shane and I would like to thank Fred and Dany Tremblay for doing an amazing job,” added Kalicia. “Their program and the whole team is amazing. There is so much support; it’s the best I’ve ever seen, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.”

When the announcement of a 228.5 score was made, Tremblay says that he, like Vanlandingham, was comfortable with opting to accept the co-championship rather than running it off in anticipation of more high-stakes runs in the near future.

Tremblay and Tinker With Guns, aka “Cilantro,” were awarded $62,500, which bumped the stallion’s lifetime Equi-Stat record to $264,988.