LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, August 6, 2015) – Defending National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Tour champion Eric Moomey topped the NHC Tour “First Half” leaderboard at the end of July with 11,555 points to earn a $10,000 prize. The “First Half” top five – each of whom received a $10,000 bonus – was rounded out by Bill Shurman (11,086 points), Sean Nolan (10,912), Gary Johnson (10,808) and Anthony Kite (10,780).

Moomey, a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, earned $75,000 in January as the 2014 NHC Tour champion and is on pace to become the first repeat winner since the NHC Tour’s inception in 2008. First prize for the NHC Tour is $75,000 again this year and comes with a trophy, a chance to play for a $2 million bonus should the NHC Tour winner go on to win NHC 17 in January, and a berth to the 2017 NHC.

“It’s been a personal goal to win the Tour as a defending champion,” Moomey said. “And I kind of feel obligated to make sure that whoever wins does it honestly and has some good competition.”

Moomey won two major online contests this spring and was runner-up at a Treasure Island Las Vegas tournament in May. The “First Half” bonus gives Moomey additional resources to pursue the overall NHC Tour win.

“The money does allow me to continue going forward cost-effectively,” Moomey said. “This was an interim target for me. It’ll be fun. There’s a lot of competition out there and it’s a little early to try to say how it will come out.”

Moomey also is the NHC Tour’s overall leader with 15,733 points through last weekend. The overall leaderboard tracks points accrued from a player’s top six scores in sanctioned contests, while the First Half leaderboard is determined by a player’s top four finishes. In both instances, one score must come from an on-site “brick-and-mortar” tournament.

The top 150 NHC Tour finishers earn automatic berths to the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping contest, the NHC, set for Jan. 28-30, 2016, at Treasure Island. NHC 17 is likely to carry a record purse of more than $2.5 million.

The rest of the “First Half” top five is made up mostly of familiar NHC veterans, though one relative newcomer is making noise as well.

Shurman, a 56-year-old commercial real estate investor from Danville, Calif., is one of the NHC’s most prolific and well-known players. He will make his 13th consecutive NHC appearance this January.

Nolan, a 50-year-old former Air Force Weather Officer from Alexandria, Va., won two NHC qualifiers in July and will make his 10th NHC appearance at Treasure Island come January.

Johnson, a former trainer, nabbed 26 training titles while winning 1,295 career races, primarily in Ohio. The Cleveland resident has appeared at every NHC since 2007.

Kite, of Princeton, N.J., has six top 10 finishes this season, including a victory on NHCqualify.com. The 60-year-old retiree qualified for the NHC for the first time last year.

The complete final “First Half” standings with scores for all 914 NHC Tour members that earned points in four eligible contests this year can be viewed online at www.ntra.com/NHC/files/NHC%20Tour%20First-Half%20080515.pdf.

For more information on the NHC and NHC Tour, visit www.ntra.com/en/nhc.