Lexington, Ky.—Sept. 30
Tom McCutcheon had two team golds and an individual silver in his world championship collection, but today he added the ever-elusive individual gold to his count aboard Gunners Special Nite at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
He placed first on a score of 228.0 over his U.S. teammate Craig Schmersal on Mister Montana Nic (223.0) and Canada’s Duane Latimer on Dun Playin Tag (222.5).
“For me in a pattern like that, if you can run in and hit that first stop, it just starts everything off right. That horse, he ran good to that first stop. He stopped really strong, and I just knew he was hooked up,” said McCutcheon. “That gave me a lot of confidence. He just plugged into me all the way through. He acted like he’s never been shown before in there. Everything I wanted to do he was there. Through the whole thing he just felt like he got stronger and stronger, and I was really happy with him.”
Tim McQuay placed fourth for Team USA with Hollywoodtinseltown (222.0). Shawn Flarida, who had the highest-placed score in the team competition with RC Fancy Step, incurred terrible luck in the individual final when his stirrup broke in the first sliding stop.
He finished the pattern, but he touched the saddle with his free hand during the equipment failure, incurring a mandatory 5-point penalty. He finished in last place.
"My stirrup broke, and I got off balance," Flarida explained. "I had to go through three-quarters of the pattern on one stirrup, which is kind of hard to do. Tom was awesome today, and my hat's off to him."
McCutcheon rode on the 2002 gold medal-winning U.S. reining team at the first WEG to include reining in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. He wouldn’t say which of his gold medals from this week was more significant—the team or the individual.
“For me, the team medal is something that’s really special. It’s something we never get to do except every four years. Both of them were special, but the team was a different special,” said McCutcheon. “Today, aside from having our flag be the highest one on the pole, it was about my horse. I was glad I could do that for that horse. He’s been a superstar horse his whole life who’s had a lot of second places.”
Marcy Van Meer trained the 6-year-old Quarter Horse stallion (Colonels Smoking Gun—Mifs Doll) and sold him to Sarah Willeman’s Turnabout Ranch this spring. "Bailey" now has NRHA earnings of more than $217,000 and stands at stud at McCutcheon’s ranch in Aubrey, Texas.
Schmersal, Overbrook, Okla., has trained Mister Montana Nic since the 12-year-old stallion (Reminic—Millie Montana) was a yearling.
“I managed that horse for his whole career. We got to show him where we thought was best and maintain him how we would like. He’s a great riding horse of course, but you’ve got to maintain and manage those horses to make them last,” said Schmersal.
“The highlight for me was walking in that big arena with all those people in there cheering,” he continued. “He did every maneuver the best he possibly could. I asked him for 110 percent, and he delivered. It’s pretty special for me to have one that is that old and come into this arena, and have him come through for me like he did. He completed every maneuver the best he possibly could. I called on him. I knew it was going to take a lot to win. I was just hoping to make the podium.”
Latimer, who took individual gold four years ago in Aachen, Germany, wasn’t disappointed to earn bronze this time.
“The horse I had today is a horse that I’m more of a catch rider for. I’ve been riding him since April of this year. Hang Ten Surprize was a horse I’d had since he was a 2-year-old. It’s not fair to compare the two. It’s two different shows and two different times. It’s great to be up here either way,” he said.
“I was really happy with my horse today also. The crowd was really great in there. They were screaming real hard. That always makes it so much more fun to show. My horse ran his stops good. Would I like to do it over again and do it a little bit better, absolutely. Overall I’m really happy,” he continued.