Avila California’s Open Reining Champ

By June 1, 2011

Call it beginner’s luck! The first time he’s shown in the open reining division at the Del Mar National Horse Show’s Western Week, Bob Avila won the Pacific Coast Horseman’s Association Championship aboard Juarez Whiz.

Bob Avila and Juarez Whiz took the PCHA Open Reining Champion at the 2011 Del Mar National Horse Show Western Week. (Photo by Rick Osteen)

“He’s a very nice horse,” Avila said of the nine-year-old gelding, owned by Ken Banks of Chulenberg, Texas. “We don’t show him much. He’s been sitting home for a while and I took to Del Mar just to get him out of the barn. He seemed to be feeling pretty good, and did well in the qualifiers so I entered him in the championship class, and we won!”

Avila is the only three-time winner of the Western States Horse Expo’s Magnificent 7 stock horse championship, and on younger horses has won some novice reining classes at Del Mar in years past. Riders must score qualifying points to get a shot at the championship, but once in, the competitors start with a clean slate, and anyone can win. Jimmy Flores was reserve champion on Peppinic.

Bob’s wife Dana Avila won two of the PCHA amateur/non-pro reining classes, including a championship class, on Not My Day Job. She was PCHA reserve champion. Tina Bellini reigned PCHA champion on Boogerific.

“I won the amateur two years ago, on Lil Mr. Smarty Pants, so it was fun to go back and do it again,” Dana Avila said. “Smarty’s new owner, Ingrid Vangelos, won a Limited Amateur Stake on him this year. That’s a class that’s more for an entry level rider. So we had a great show at Del Mar overall. Our barn did very well.” Tammy Cummings won the Ltd. Amateur Reining Championship on Country Upstage.

Dana Avila said her contingent really enjoys showing at the Del Mar National because there’s “so much history in all the classes. The Perpetual Trophies are so amazing. It’s so cool to look at them, and if you do well you almost need a separate trailer to cart home all the stuff!”

The show is one of the nation’s oldest, having originated in 1946, as part of the annual San Diego County Fair. Some 350 horses rode that year, competing for $20,000 in prize money. Today, more than 3,000 horses typically compete for something in the area of $350,000 in prize money during the three weeks of competition (which includes Dressage Week and Hunter Jumper Week).

“The trophies are beautiful silver bowls and cups, and they let the winner keep it for the year,” Avila continued. “To see your name on there next to all the legendary people and horses that have won in the past is a real thrill.”

Last year’s big amateur winner, William Shatner, had some placings this year, but fell short of the reining championship he brought home from the 2010 show.

A highlight of Western Week was the Night of the Horse event, sponsored by Mary’s Tack & Feed, featuring performers Tommie Turvey and Ramon Becerra.


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