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Russell Dilday Repeats World's Greatest Horseman Victory

Russell Dilday made reined cow horse history on February 8 at the 1st Community Federal Credit Union Spur Arena in San Angelo, Texas. Riding his great horse, Topsails Rien Maker, Dilday became the first to win back-to-back World's Greatest Horseman Championships on the same horse. But with a final score of 884, Dilday set another record - the highest composite score ever in World's Greatest Horseman history. Bob Avila and Chics Magic Potion earned the Reserve Championship with an 883.5 - tying for the closest margin between the two titles.

Dilday was long been known as the bridesmaid of the competition, earning the Reserve Championship twice, and coming close numerous other times. He broke that streak with his win in 2008, and returned in 2009 with high hopes. "To win it again was phenomenal. I can't tell you how neat it is," he said. "But really, my little horse deserves it. He is awesome, and I would definitely be broke without him."

Dilday began the finals competition with a score of 216 in the herd work, tying for third. "My herd work has always been the weakest area. I worked on that a lot this year," he admitted. "My first cow was not what I wanted, but the second cow was one I had my eye on. It worked better than I had hoped, and I stayed on it so long I barely got my last cow cut."

The charismatic trainer followed that with a score of 227 - the highest of the finals, which pushed him into the lead. "I knew I'd have to be good, because I was showing behind Bob Avila. I just stayed calm and everything felt great, because Slider (Topsails Rien Maker) was there for me."

Dilday followed that with a 223 in the steer stopping, and finished off with a 218 in the fence work. "Some of the steers didn't run that hard in the steer stopping, so I let mine out pretty far. It ran, and we had to catch up, but that made a great run," he explained. "When we got to the cow work, I knew Bob was coming up and he had a chance, so I knew that I couldn't play it safe. The cow didn't have the feel I wanted, and when she started for the fence I took that chance. Our first turn wasn't as tight as I wanted, but the rest of the run was perfect."

Along with a check for $30,000, Dilday and Topsails Rien Maker's co-owner, Kevin Cantrelle, were awarded a Bob's Custom Saddle from the 6666 Ranch, a Gist custom buckle from Wagonhound Land & Livestock, a pair of custom ostrich boots from Rios of Mercedes, and a monogrammed ESP saddle pad from Classic Equine.

When asked what was next for Topsails Rien Maker, by Topsail Cody and out of Jameen Gay, Dilday candidly replied, "We'll be back next year."

Another former World's Greatest Horseman, Bob Avila, earned the Reserve title on his "magical" horse, Chics Magic Potion, by Smart Chic Olena and out of Remedys Magic Potion, owned by Kenneth Banks. The Reserve Championship added $21,000 to Chics Magic Potion's lifetime earnings, which now exceed $250,000.

"I was just glad to make it to the finals - we shouldn't have made it," noted Avila, referring to the score of 203 that he marked in the preliminary herd work competition. "My horse is great, and I was asking him to dig me out of all the holes I had gotten us into."

Avila and "Magic" tied Dilday in the herd work with a 216, and followed up with the second highest rein work score - a 225.5. "I have to say we had superb cattle throughout the show - and especially in the final's herd work. I had some really good cattle in the herd work," he explained. "Russell and I have two of the best reiners - and they marked that today. I definitely would never complain about the score I had."

In the steer stopping, Avila marked a 219. "The hereford I drew in the roping was a really high loper in the prelims - he ran fast and straight. You can't mark a high score if you don't have one that runs."

To take the World's Greatest Horseman title from Dilday, Avila, who was last, knew he needed to mark a 223.5 in the cow work. "I definitely had the best heifer down the fence. She came out, and I remembered she was good in the herd work. She was fat, so I knew she wouldn't run long. She was fast on the first turn, real good on the second, so I went ahead and circled up."

Although Avila rode Magic to the highest cow work score by three points, the 223 wasn't enough to take the lead. Avila was awarded a Gist Reserve Champion buckle sponsored by E Bar G Ranch, and a monogrammed ESP saddle pad from Classic Equine.

"This is one of the best and toughest World's Greatest Horseman finals we've had in a long time," noted Dilday. "Normally horses and riders will fall out of contention in each event, and it's all about who is still standing. This year it was a horse race - no one really ever let up."

The NRCHA World's Greatest Horseman competition wrapped up the nine days of the Fort Dodge Animal Health NRCHA Celebration of Champions, which also featured the Circle Y Ranch Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association Derby and the NRCHA World Championship Show, presented by John Deere.

The National Reined Cow Horse Association, celebrating its 60th Anniversary in 2009, is the governing body of cow horse competition, is responsible for

promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating

members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse.

Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes John Deere,

Adequan(r), Bob's Custom Saddles, Cinch, Inc., Classic Equine, Gist

Silversmiths, MD Barns, Platinum Performance, Inc., Nutrena, Quarter Horse News & Performance Horse magazine, the Peppermill Hotel/Resort, Fort Dodge West Nile Innovator, Rios of Mercedes, Merial products ULCERGARD and EQUIOXX, Great American Insurance Company and the Silver Legacy Hotel, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today's equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at http://www.nrcha.com <http://www.nrcha.com/> .


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