NRCHA Derby Champions Crowned in Paso Robles, California

Courtesy of National Reined Cow Horse Association

Humble is not a word you would expect to hear from a competitor with three horses qualified for the clean-slate finals of the Open Derby but, that is how NRCHA Professional Justin Wright described his week in Paso Robles, California.

“It was a very humbling week and it was just fun,” Wright said. “Last year we had a great year, but this week has been so much fun, just enjoying doing good and enjoying the ride and the good horses.”

All eyes were on the Santa Maria, California, horseman and Shiners Diamond Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Shiners Diamond Lady x Shining Spark) as they maintained a solid lead throughout the preliminary go-rounds with an overall score of 665.5. Come finals time, the team seemed to find a new level of performance, marking an incredible 672 in the Derby Open Finals composite (225 herd / 221.5 rein / 225.5 cow).

Derby Intermediate Open Champion 

The 2018 NRCHA Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby Intermediate Open Championship belonged to Clayton Edsall and Bet He Sparks (Bet Hesa Cat x Sparking Train x Shining Spark) owned by K & L Phillips, LLC. The pair scored a 219 in the herd, a 223 in the reining and a 228 down the fence for a composite of 670, giving them a first place finish in the Intermediate and second place finish in the Open.

Dave Dillman piloted his own horse, Playing With Rey (Play Dual Rey x Arc Holly Cee Lena x Smart Little Lena), to a combined score of 645.5. Dillman and his 2013 mare earned a 214 in the herd work, 215 in the rein work and 216.5 down the fence to win the Limited Open Championship.

Bart Holowath and Smart Lookin Nurse (WR This Cats Smart x NurseWare x Dual Rey) captured two titles, the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro Derby Championships, with an overall score of 653.5 (219 herd / 215.5 rein / 219 cow).

If you are an owner, rider or fan of reined cow horses, you have experienced the roller coaster of emotions that come with the sport. Non Pro competitor LaDona Emmons is no exception to this rule, after spending the past week experience the peaks and valleys the reined cow horse has to offer.

It all came down to the cow work for Emmons and Hey Nicci (Nic It In The Bud x Sugartime 691 x Docs Hickory). Topping the preliminary chart of the Non Pro divisions after two preliminary events, Emmons and “Nicci” ran into some tough luck in the fence work, leaving her to wonder if she was tough enough for this sport. “When I got back in the Novice Finals, it made me happy that I could at least try and go down the fence one more time. Today it felt really good, we got it set up right and for me it was really good,” Emmons said. It was the opportunity to go down the fence one more time, that lead Emmons and her 2013 mare to the 2018 NRCHA Derby Novice Non Pro Championship title and earnings exceeding $1,500. The pair marked a 213 in the herd work, a 215.5 in the rein work and a big 220.5 down the fence for a composite of 649, sealing the win.

CD Survivor Memorial Open Bridle Spectacular Champion

An incredible fence score of 227.5 came from CSR Lay Down Sally (Dual Spark x Look At Her Glo x CD O Cody) and NRCHA Professional Chris Dawson, giving them an eleven point lead over their fellow competitors. The team’s composite of 670 (219 herd / 223.5 rein / 227.5 cow) secured the coveted title of 2018 CD Survivor Memorial Open Bridle Spectacular Champion.

The CD Survivor Memorial Bridle Spectacular Reserve Champion was Sonita Lena Rey (Dual Rey x Sonita Lena Chick x Smart Chic Olena), a 2011 stallion shown by Scottsdale, Arizona, Professional Corey Cushing, and owned by Sheri Jamieson.

For the second year in a row, the Non Pro Limited Spectacular Championship was captured by Kristin Bacchetti, who rode Heart Of A Remedy (Heart Of A Fox x SPD Remedys Response x Docs Remedy) to an incredible 443.5 composite (149 herd/146 rein/148.5 cow).

The 2018 NRCHA Derby $5,000 Non Pro Limited Championship title belonged to Orlando Gonzalez and Ms Genuinelysmart (Very Smart Remedy x Genuine Redbud x Genuine Doc). The non pro competitor, who regularly travels from South America to compete at NRCHA premier events, rode the 2012 mare to a 144.5 in the rein work and a 147.5 in cow work, for a composite of 292.

Winning the Non Pro Hackamore Championship was Rachel Reedy aboard her 2013 gelding, Uno Whats Wright (Hes Wright On x Uno What Weeno x Smart Little Uno).

Brother Jackson (Peptoboonsmal x Shes Icing Onthe Cat x High Brow Cat) and Ken Wold returned to the Paso Robles Event Center on the hunt for another championship title. With the 2009 stallion being fresh out of the breeding barn, Wold pondered how he was going to duplicate last year’s spectacular run. Being the great individual he is, “Brother” was as laid back and solid-minded as ever throughout the week.

As the evening came to an end, the duo’s composite score of 657 (218.5 herd / 212.5 rein / 226) lead to winning the Intermediate Open Bridle Spectacular and an overall third place finish in the Open Bridle Spectacular.

The California horseman’s game plan was to separate Brother Jackson, from his fellow competitors, in the first leg of the event, the herd work, by showcasing his cutting style. Even though Wold had his heart set on a clean reining run, the team ran into some trouble. Not being one to give up on the ship, Wold put his trust in Brother Jackson, knowing he would rise to the occassion in front of the large crowd in the fence work. “All I’ve I got to do is have a big fence run, and he’s done it before,” Wold said. “I need to set things up for him and let him do it. When I went into that fence work I was telling myself we can do this. There was not any doubt in my mind we weren’t going to mark a 225. I wasn’t going to accept, mentally, anything but that. I really believe in mentally imagery and setting your goals.” The pair exceed the expectation of 225, scoring a 226 down the fence.

The CD Survivor Memorial Bridle Spectacular Reserve Champion was Mister OMG (One Time Pepto x Sallie B Badge x Playboys Badge), A 2010 stallion ridden by Goodyear, Arizona horseman Jason Grimshaw for owner Lauren Boychuk.