Fort Worth, TX – After four rounds of competition, the National Cutting Horse Association and Borden Milk crowned a new Futurity champion Saturday night. Oh Miss Caroline and Craig Thompson, Buffalo, Texas, marked a 226 to capture the Open title. Oh Miss Caroline earned her owners Patrick and Laura Collins, Lincoln, Ill., a $200,000 payday for the win.
Ronnie Rice, Centerville, Texas, set the bar high as the first rider out on Jewel Bars Cat with a 225. His score held until Oh Miss Caroline entered the herd as the last to work in the 25-horse finals.
“You know exactly what you have to do and what cows are left,” said Thompson of his déjà vu last slot draw. He won in 2006 in the same position. Oh Miss Caroline came into the finals just a half-point into the bubble from the semi-finals. He rode to the herd with his eyes on the goal and determined to show what his mare could do. “Regardless of what happened, I wanted it to be known that I came here to cut,” said Thompson.
Rice has a pair of Futurity championships under his belt – one each in 1998 and 2001. When he saw his draw, he knew he had to strategize if he was going to have a shot at a win. “We knew going in that if we were first we were going to have to do a bunch to get enough marked,” said Rice of his first in the finals draw. “You never know until the last horse rides down there.”
Oh Miss Caroline is a daughter of leading NCHA sire High Brow Cat, and this win earned the $50 million sire a record six Futurity championships for his offspring. High Brow Cat’s other Futurity champion offspring comprise One Smart Lookin Cat, Highbrow Supercat, Oh Cay Felix, High Brow CD, and Metallic Cat.
Oh Miss Caroline is a full sister to Oh Cay Felix, who Thompson rode to his first Futurity victory in 2006 and was reunited with for the Futurity Champions’ Cup earlier in the show. “Felix” is also owned by the Collins. Thompson has earnings exceeding $2 million, and is in NCHA’s Riders Hall of Fame.
It took a 222 to win the Non Pro finals, and 22-year-old Kade Smith, Star, Idaho, marked just that aboard Lean This Rey, by Dual Rey. This was Smith’s first time to show in the Non Pro NCHA Futurity finals. “During the first set, before I showed, I was really nervous. But after I showed, I was relaxed because I had done everything I could do and there was nothing I would change,” said Smith.
Smith was a finalist last year at the Futurity in the Limited Non Pro aboard Spork, who he went on to win the 2011 Super Stakes Limited Non Pro and placed reserve in the Non Pro of the same event. Lean This Rey was bred by Linda Holmes and started by Cody Hall, Longmont, Colo.
Rios of Mercedes Amateur
Kelsey Weeks, Cotulla, Texas, and One Sweet Sis topped the Amateur with 215 points. One Sweet Sis is by 2010 Freshman Sire of the Year, One Time Pepto. Weeks rides with $3.9 million trainer and past Futurity champion Kathy Daughn, Gonzales, Texas. She purchased One Sweet Sis earlier in the year from Denise and Charlie Seiz.
“We had a tough cow, but she was spot on,” said Weeks. “She definitely held her own.” Weeks was also a finalist at the 2011 NCHA Summer Spectacular in the Limited Non Pro aboard Holidayware.
Matthews Cutting Horses Limited Non-Pro
Jo Anne Carollo, Atascadero, Calif., is no stranger to the finals, but her typical field is in reined cow work. Carollo was not only the first rider to crack the herd; she was also riding a homegrown mare she bred out of the mare she rode to the 1999 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity championship. What A Rey and Carollo marked a 214 that stuck through the duration of the finals.
“It was like a dream to watch all those good horses, thinking that no way my score would hold up,” said Carollo. Carollo primarily trained What A Rey on her own, but was assisted by NCHA Professional Trainer Russ Westfall, who was also the driving force behind her competing at Fort Worth. “I didn’t have time to be nervous,” she said. “All week it’s been a learning curve, and I couldn’t have been happier with my horse.”
John Deere Division of the Open
Catch-riding for Sean Flynn paid off for Todd Gann who got a win for he and Chief Red Warrior with 219 points. Chief Red Warrior is owned by Tim May, Saltillo, Miss., who also showed him in the Non Pro.
“We were fortunate to win, but when you show a Sean Flynn horse, it’s very simple,” said Gann who got his first victory in Will Rogers with this win. “This win will do a lot for my confidence.” Chief Red Warrior is by Cats Red Feather, and made the finals by a hair with 430 cumulative points.
Neiman Marcus Champions’ Cup, presented by the Jerry Durant Auto Group
All 32 living past Open Futurity champion riders were invited to the Futurity Champions’ Cup, and 31 of them elected to participate. The past champions competed in a packed house Nov. 26. At the end of the night, three champions from three age categories were crowned. Dennis Funderburgh, 77, Del Rio, Texas; Jody Galyean, 57, Marietta, Okla.; and Austin Shepard, 34, Summerdale, Ala. were the three champions of champions.
Funderburgh rode Peppys Shorty Nino, a horse he once trained that is now owned by Larry and Alice Irvin of Fredericksburg, Texas. He marked 223 points.
1986 Futurity Champion Galyean scored 230 points on Auspicious Cat, owned by Ed and Shona Dufurrena of Gainesville, Texas. On the horse he rode to his 2007 Futurity win, Shepard and High Brow CD put 230 points up on the board. High Brow CD is owned by the Grace Ranch of Jennings, La.
For more information about the NCHA and the sport of cutting, please call (817) 244-6188 or log on to http://www.nchacutting.com/
The Augusta Cutting Futurity is January 21-29, 2012 in Augusta, GA. More info can be found here: http://augustafuturity.com/