By Quarter Horse News
The National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Open finals are guaranteed to be a good show, but this year, the Reno, Nevada-based event brought even more to the table. With strong runs in the herd work and reining, it was truly anyone’s game going into the cow work, and Jake Telford and Starlight Kisses made their way to the winner’s circle.
Telford and mare’s new 656 composite score went straight to the top of the leader board, and when the final run was complete, Telford’s dream became a reality. Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider Telford, of Caldwell, Idaho, has sought the NRCHA Futurity Open Championship for nearly two decades, so finally reaching his goal was a special moment. After finishing as the 2010 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Reserve Champion on One Time Rey Jay, he stayed true to his program and his perseverance paid off in Reno this year.
“I think I’ve put in the same amount of effort [since then] but it’s always the would’ve, could’ve, should’ves. I’m not going to lie, I’ve probably watched that tape a million times,” Telford said. “When you have a good horse, you want to do your best and show your horse to the best of its ability. Every single time I make the finals, I just want to do my part.”
Starlight Kisses (Shady Lil Starlight x Kiss My Shiny Lips x Shining Spark) is the product of years of careful breeding by Nancy Crawford-Hall and husband Phil Hall, of Holy Cow Performance Horses in Santa Ynez, California. Their meticulous attention to conformation, bloodlines and personality proved key for the couple, who took home a $100,000 paycheck.
Plain Wright (Hes Wright On x Isabellena x Quejanaisalena) and Taormino garnered $80,000 for their Futurity Open Reserve Championship, which combined with the $4,150 the duo earned for finishing eighth in the Intermediate Open finals earlier in the week. After only employing Taormino as their resident trainer for a short time, Garth and Amanda Gardiner could hardly believe the night was real.
“To have a futurity horse mark a 28 and earn every point, and with Erin showing it… she’s such a great role model,” Amanda said with tears in her eyes.
“When we hired Erin and [husband] Anthony [Taormino] we knew they had just as much potential to be superstars in this business as anybody,” Garth added. “We knew the potential was there, but to have it happen so quickly is really overwhelming.”