by Chris Gay, Staff Writer for Augusta Chronicle
Plan to see a lot of Austin Shepard at this week’s Augusta Futurity. The Summerdale, Ala., cowboy brought 32 horses to the show.
Already, two of them are off to a fast start. Shepard posted the top two scores of Monday’s Classic Open go-round aboard Great Chief and Bet Hesa Cat, with 223 and 222, at James Brown Arena. The top 23 horses with scores of 216 or better advanced to Friday night’s finals.
For the first time, Shepard said, Augusta Futurity officials eliminated the second go. Shepard said he enjoys not having to worry about having a possible bobble after a big run. “There’s always the chance you can come back in the second go-round and lose a cow on one of them,” he said. “It eliminates that worry.”
The 34-year-old is married to Stacy and has two children – 10-year-old Cade and 6-year-old Caylee. He is no stranger to success at the Augusta Futurity, having won the 2007 and 2010 Classic Open finals.
Great Chief is a 5-year-old gelding by Cats Red Feather out of Aristo Rose. Great Chief is owned by Joel Colgrove Sr., and Shepard owns Aristo Rose, a horse he used to ride.
Shepard bought Great Chief as a 2-year-old at the National Cutting Horse Association World Championship Futurity. He trained him, sold him and later got him back last fall.
Shepard and Great Chief made the finals last fall at the Southern Futurity. This is their first appearance together at a major show. “He’s a lot of fun,” Shepard said. “Real strong. Real athletic. Big stop. Works real low. Very nice horse. Very smart about a cow.”
Bet Hesa Cat, owned by the Bet Hesa Cat Syndicate, is a 6-year-old stallion by High Brow Cat out of Bet Yer Blue Boons. Shepard has had Bet Hesa Cat since he was a yearling. “It’s been a lot of fun,” Shepard said. “I fell in love with him when he was a baby. He was a great horse to train. A lot of fun.”
2012 Augusta Futurity In Brief
AUGUSTA FUTURITY MAIN COMPETITION: Monday, Jan. 21, through Saturday, Jan. 28, cutting horse competition, in James Brown Arena. Action begins at 9 a.m. Jan. 21-27, with finals rounds on Jan. 28 beginning about 6 p.m.
CHAMPIONSHIP BULL RIDING: Begins 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in James Brown Arena. Separate ticket required available at the arena box office. Proceeds benefit University of South Carolina Aiken baseball scholarships.
WRANGLER FAMILY FUN FEST: Saturday, Jan. 28, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Fun for kids of all ages on James Brown Arena Plaza on Seventh Street. Music, clogging, etc. Free festival.
VENDORS: James Brown Arena lobby and downstairs, Jan. 21-28; Bell Auditorium Western Expo begins Wednesday, Jan. 25, goes through Saturday, Jan. 28, with western wear and many one-of-a-kind, handcrafted items. Admission is free to the Bell’s Western Expo.
HORSE SALE: Some of the best quarter horses available for purchase. Begins 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, in James Brown Arena.
AUGUSTA STALLION STAKES BREEDING AUCTION: Saturday, Jan. 28, in James Brown Arena, begins approximately 2 p.m. following horse sale; not a sale of stallions but of donated breedings.
FUTURITY FINALS: Final rounds of the Classic Open and Non-Pro categories at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, and the finals rounds of the Futurity Open and Futurity Non-Pro categories; 6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, James Brown Arena. Opening ceremony, 5:30 p.m.
Visit the website to find out more: http://augustafuturity.com
View the live webcast of cutting competition here: HorseCity.com Video & Media