by Chris Gay, Augusta Chronicle Staff
Patrick Collins and Diana Helm came to a quick agreement at the conclusion of the Classic Non-Pro finals late Friday night.
Collins and Oh Miss Peacock marked 222 on the final run of the event, tying Helm and Aristo Jazz. Instead of holding a sudden-death, one-run work-off to decide first place, Collins and Helm decided on a co-championship. “These horses go through a lot,” he said. “My horse and her horse gave it everything they had. There was no need to go do it again.”
Collins, of Lincoln, Ill., and Helm, of Nowata, Okla., split the prize money; each collected $8,112. They also each won their first Augusta Futurity title. Benjie Neely, of Lyons, Ga., and Lacey Little marked 218.5 to finish third for $6,811.
Collins and Helm split the seven prizes for the top two places, drawing slips of paper out of a hat. Collins took home boots, stirrups, the reserve champion buckle and the championship trophy. Helm claimed the championship buckle, vest and spurs.
Helm and her husband, Bill, work in the cattle industry. She said the business, along with a bout with poor health, forced a 12-year absence from the sport.
Helm, who returned in recent years to cutting, looked strong aboard Aristo Jazz, a 5-year-old gelding by Smart Aristocrat out of Sheza Jazzy Player. Helm and her mount rode first in the second bunch of cows and shot to the top. “I was just thrilled,” Helm said. “Aristo Jazz has been a fun little horse for us.”
Collins, who is married to Laura and has four adult sons, is half-owner of a liquid cattle feed company. He and Oh Miss Peacock, a 5-year-old mare by High Brow Cat out of Oh Cay Shorty, won the Classic Non-Pro go-round.
Running last among the 20 horses in the finals, Collins and Oh Miss Peacock entered the pen with a conservative strategy. “My goal was to be smooth and accurate,” Collins said. “I wasn’t even thinking about the score. I wasn’t thinking about going in there and setting the world on fire.”
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