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Reign Maker

Russell Dilday and Topsails Rien Maker turn it on again to win record 3rd NRCHA 'World's Greatest'

From Horsetrader staff reports - February 17th, 2011 - Cover Story, Show & Event News
Feb. 17 Cover

Feb. 17 Cover

SAN ANGELO, Texas – With a gritty fence work against a challenging cow, Russell Dilday and Topsails Rien Maker outdueled Ron Emmons and Olena Oak and Todd Crawford on Play Dual Rey to claim a record third National Reined Cow Horse Association World’s Greatest Horseman title in four years.

In a field of the world’s best riders and stock horses, Dilday regained his crown by the slimmest of margins -– 874.5 points to 874 for Emmons and Crawford — after an intense series of four events: herd work, reining, steer roping and cow work down the fence.

“Eight-hundred and something points and it comes down to a half-point!,” Dilday said after the Feb. 8 win. “It was a hell of a final — tight all the way to the end.”

Topsails Rien Maker gave Russell Dilday good rein, herd and steer-stopping performances, setting the stage for a dramatic, winning final.

Primo Morales photo

Topsails Rien Maker gave Russell Dilday good rein, herd and steer-stopping performances, setting the stage for a dramatic, winning final.

It was a special finish, too, putting “Slider” back on top the World’s Greatest pinnacle of stock horses. After winning the event in 2008 and 2009, the Porterville duo were fourth in last year’s event, won by Randy Paul on Smokeelan.

“This helps find a place in history for him,” said Dilday. “He’s such a great horse — and I’m sure I’m biased — but when you win something like this, that means he gets to go into the history books as the first horse to ever win it three times.”

Topsails Rien Maker, the top money-earner in reined cow horse history, won $30,000 for the victory to push lifetime earnings past $319,000. The Topsail Cody son out of Jameen Gay (Gay Bar King) is also the only horse to win back-to-back World’s Greatest championships.

Of all the variables at play in the competition to become the 2011 National Reined Cow Horse Association World’s Greatest Horseman, the one that may have mattered most came last year. It was a choice to rest the stallion at the urging of vet Dr. Michael Sanders.

Topsails Rien Maker and Russell Dilday

Primo Morales photo

Topsails Rien Maker and Russell Dilday

“After this contest last year, he started finding some problems – an inflamed tendon that made him a little off on it,’ said Dilday. The vet said he would probably be all right, but he guaranteed that if I laid him off and just keep him legged up until the next World’s Greatest, then Slider’d be 100 percent.”

Scratched from his calendar were the AQHA World, the World’s Richest Stock Horse and other events in the interest of a healthy trip to San Angelo.

“He talked me into it,” Dilday said. “He said if you lay that horse off, I promise you that by the time we get to the World’s Greatest next year, he will be 100 percent — and that’s exactly what happened.”

What happened during the competition was an old fashioned three-way duel, with Dilday and Topsails Rien Maker and Ron Emmons on Olena Oak never flinching after Todd Crawford took Play Dual Rey to a commanding lead after two events. With Crawford having marked a lofty 220 in herd work and a 221 in reining, Dilday and Emmons needed – and got – some ground on the leader after they both notched 220s in steer roping.

Topsails Rien Maker and Russell Dilday

Primo Morales photo

Topsails Rien Maker and Russell Dilday

“It’s amazing how much harder adding one event (steer roping) makes everything — on the people and the horses.” Said Dilday. “Having to complete four events without a mistake when you are going against that many great horses is what makes this event so intense. And the fact that each rider only has one chance. You can only enter one horse. So you’ve got all that effort going into that one preliminary run. Everybody is swinging for the bleachers.”

Especially for those who draw early – or first. Dilday’s draws in the order of go’s for the events were 7-1-1-4 (herd-reining-steer-fence).

“All I can do is just go lay it out every time because I would have no idea where any of those guys would be,” he said. “But when it came to the fence work, Todd was first and Ron was second, so I knew what both of them had done. Then I knew I had to go hard to try to win it.”

The cattle were fast at the World’s Greatest, and Dilday knew he had to push.

“I sent Slider hard for my second turn — he just swallowed that cow,” he said. “I switched sides and went to circling, and that cow ran so hard in the circle that he was slamming into us all the way down the fence and then in the circles, too. That little horse just … I wish people can feel how much heart he has.

“When he makes his mind up when we’re going to circle `em, he’s made his mind up he’s going to get `em,” he said. “He got it done.”

More results: See website http://bit.ly/012BWGH

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