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Randy Paul and Smokeelan win the 2010 NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman championship in dramatic fashion.

Primo Morales photo

Randy Paul and Smokeelan win the 2010 NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman championship in dramatic fashion.

SAN ANGELO, Texas – It came down to the final run.

Randy Paul and Smokeelan, going last down the fence in pursuit of front-runner Doug Williamson and Hes Wright On, pulled off a clutch 223 score in the cow work to claim the 2010 World’s Greatest Horseman title Feb. 7 at the First Community Credit Unior Spur Arena. The National Reined Cow Horse Association’s four-event competition tested the world’s best trainers and stock horses in herd work, rein work, cow work and steer stopping.

After the first finals segment in herd work, Paul faced an uphill climb. He and Smokeelan (Elans Playboy x Smart Little Smokee), owned by Jill Smiekel George, sat in seventh place, but the subsequent rein work sparked optimism for the trainer who has won more than $1 million in National Reining Horse Association earnings.

“I pushed him,” Paul said of the reining. “That caught me up pretty good.” He ended the rein work in third place, which is where he stood after steer-stopping, too, as the leader, Williamson, went first in the herd work finals. Williamson took Hes Wright On (Lenas Wright On x Shesa Lota Nic), owned by Garth and Amanda Gardiner, to a lead that held until the final contestant, Paul.
“I tried not to let the pressure get to me,” Paul said. “I knew I had a chance because I had a good fence horse”

The win earned the Scottsdale-based trainer a check for $30,000, a Bob’s Custom Saddle, a Gist Silversmith buckle, and more.

“It’s something you dream about,” he said. “When you’ve been striving for it and you finally get it done, it definitely feels like you accomplished something.”
Paul and Williamson share another accomplishment – they both are cancer survivors who have won the fight and advanced their marks in the industry.

“I’m just glad to be here,” Paul said.

Williamson, who collected $21,000 for the reserve title, also has overcome serious injuries sustained in a fall at the 2008 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. The NRCHA Hall of Famer, who has been a World’s Greatest Horseman finalist four times, says he’ll keep coming back.

The NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman is part of the Fort Dodge Animal Health Celebration of Champions, which also includes the NRCHA World Championship Show presented by John Deere and the Circle Y Ranch Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association Derby. Over the 12 days of competition, the event paid out nearly a half-million dollars. It will return to San Angelo in 2011.

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