Australian Futurity Non-Pro Champion Dara TR Cocoas Preview continued her successful season by carrying Spud Sheehan to a 221 and a victory worth $21,000 in the Brazos Bash Futurity Open.
Owner Lindsey Wheatley had ridden the mare to several Open and Non-Pro finals in Australia while earning about $50,000 prior to the horse’s trip to the United States. Bred in Australia, Dara TR Cocoas Preview is sired by TR Dual Rey, who stands in the U.S., and is out of Daras Cocoas Preview, an Oaks Cocoa Jay mare from Australia.
At the Brazos Bash, Wheatley, 29, turned the reins over to longtime friend Sheehan, a native Australian who has worked in Granbury, Texas, the past year.
“I’ve been good friends with his wife, Rebecca, for about eight years,” Wheatley said when asked how they met. “I’m a non-pro and I’d made some mistakes with her in the Open [at three prior shows]. I just thought I’d give him an opportunity to show her.”
Sheehan, 28, certainly appreciated that chance. He and Dara TR Cocoas Preview dominated the night with a 221 from the No. 2 draw in the 13-horse finals. While he’d made several Open finals in recent years and had won in the Limited Open, this was Sheehan’s first major Open win.
“I showed her three times and worked her twice,” said Sheehan, who rode the mare for the first time just two days before the Brazos Bash started. “She [Wheatley] has done an unbelievable job and that’s an exceptional horse.”
Wheatley is an Illinois native who spent several years working as a loper in Texas. In 2009 she married native Australian Aaron Wheatley, who was training in Texas at the time. The couple moved to Australia shortly thereafter, where Aaron continues to train cutting horses.
Wheatley and Dara TR Cocoas Preview are also competing in the Non-Pro at the Brazos Bash, and plan to travel to California for the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Futurity later this month.
Crowd favorite J.B. McLamb, of Stephenville, Texas, and VR Cowgirl Kakie were Open Reserve Champions with a 217 to earn $19,000. The mare, bred and owned by Paul Ritchie, of Middletown, Md., placed fifth in the Futurity Open a couple of weeks earlier at the Cotton Stakes.
The Brazos Bash, which appears poised to shatter records for total entries and payout, continues through Sunday.