Reined cow horse derbies are specifically for 4- and 5-year-olds, shown two-handed in a snaffle bit or hackamore and judged in three events: herd work, rein work and cow work. At the National Reined Cow Horse Association Celebration of Champions on Monday, February 12 in Fort Worth, Texas, winners in five Open divisions of the NRCHA Cow Horse Classic Derby were determined as competitors went down the fence in the last, and most thrilling, phase of this cow horse triathlon.
In a big and highly competitive field, a proven horse-and-rider combination rose to the top. Duals Lucky Charm (Dual Smart Rey x TRR Miss Pepcid Olena x Pepcid) and Scottsdale, Arizona, professional Kelby Phillips, the team that won the 2016 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship, blazed a trail of high scoring runs through three events to claim the Derby Open Championship for the gelding’s owners, Mike and Robyne Stewart.
Phillips and Duals Lucky Charm scored a 444.5 composite (147 herd/149.5 rein/148 fence), taking home $22,638 in first-place money. Considering that Phillips and the gelding also earned a go-round check every time they stepped into the arena, their total take on the day was $24,845.
Their awards included a Bob’s Custom Saddle, a Gist buckle, product from Platinum Performance and San Juan Ranch/Santa Cruz Animal Health, and a gift certificate from NexGen Compounding
The Derby Open Reserve Champion was Shiners Diamond Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Shiners Diamond Lady x Shining Spark), shown by California horseman Justin Wright for owners Mike and James Draper. Wright and the 4-year-old mare earned a 443 on three events (150 herd/144.5 rein/148.5 fence), taking home $18,997 in Reserve Championship money and go-round money.
Derby Intermediate Open
Derby Limited Open
David Dillman, an NRCHA Professional from Calhan, Colorado, earned the Derby Limited Open Championship aboard Playing With Rey (Play Dual Rey x ARC Holly Cee Lena x Smart Little Lena). Dillman, who is also the mare’s owner, guided her to a 424.5 composite (141 herd/142.5 rein/141 fence), earning $2,978.
Level 1 Limited Open
We can’t confirm whether Chance Harman, of Aubrey, Texas, was laughing all the way to the winner’s circle after he won the Level 1 Limited Open Derby aboard Sheza Crackin Me Up (Nabisco Roan x Sheza Shinette x Shining Spark), but he had to at least be smiling as he claimed the $2,870 first place paycheck for the mare’s breeder/owner, and NRCHA sponsor Holy Cow Performance Horses, Weatherford, Texas. Harman and Sheza Crackin Me Up scored a total 424 (140 herd/142 rein/142 fence), earning the win on the tie-breaking high fence work score.