Mary Jo Milner begins her quest for an eighth National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Non-Pro World Championship and three horses will vie for the 2013 Open title as the NCHA World Finals start Friday night in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Open and Non-Pro finals, featuring the top 15 money-earning Open any-age horses and the top 15 earning Non-Pro riders throughout the year, will take place Friday, Nov. 29, Saturday, Nov. 30, Thursday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 7 in the Watt Arena at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Each final starts at 7 p.m., with the exception of a 4 p.m. start for the Dec. 7 show. The NCHA World Finals is held in conjunction with the Nov. 21-Dec. 14 NCHA Futurity.
Milner, a seven-time NCHA Non-Pro World Champion rider, six-time Reserve World Champion, and 23-time Top 10 finisher, heads into the Friday’s event with $94,323 earned. Milner and her 8-year-old gelding Smooth Asa Zee start with a $21,000-plus lead over second-ranked Joe Howard Williamson, of Archer, Texas. If Milner and Smooth Asa Zee (Smooth Asa Cat x Zee Dually x Dual Pep) end the year as Non-Pro World Champions, it will be the first time in 10 years that the title was earned with just one horse.
Williamson is a worthy and dangerous contender. He’s a three-time Non-Pro World Champion who has come from behind to win at the World Finals before. A total of $30,175 could be earned by winning each of the four rounds plus the Show Championship. The same figures apply in the Open division, with purses totaling $120,700 in the Open and the Non-Pro events combined.
The NCHA Open World Finals includes three horses – One Time Choice, Mississippi Cat and ARC Ruby Playgunia – with a shot at the World Championship.
One Time Choice, a 2007 mare owned by J Five Horse Ranch and ridden by Chubby Turner, both of Weatherford, Texas, heads to the show with $92,026 earned and an approximately $15,000 lead. Mississippi Cat, a 2005 stallion, heads to the event with $77,444 earned. He’s ridden Josh Dozier, of Armory, Miss., and owned by Vick Etheridge, of Corinth, Miss. ARC Ruby Playgunia, a 2006 mare ridden by Matt Budge and owned by Jackpot Ranch, also both of Weatherford, heads to the show with $67,878 earned while competing at about half as many shows as her two top-ranked rivals.
The NCHA World Finals also feature $50,000 and $15,000 Amateur, $15,000 and $5,000 Novice Non-Pro, $10,000 and $3,000 Novice Open, $35,000 Non-Pro and $2,000 Limit Rider divisions. The top 15 money-earners in each are competing for combined purses ranging from $10,680 to $18,378. The new NCHA World Champions will be honored at the World Finals party on Dec. 7 at the conclusion of the finals.