Facing a field including three National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Non-Pro Hall of Fame members, including his mom, 13-year-old Brandon Westfall rode 5-year-old gelding Gentle Ben to a 220 and a victory worth $8,949 during the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting Non-Pro June 14 in Las Vegas.
Brandon and Gentle Ben (CD Royal x PG Selena x Playgun), bred by Mark and Eva Gardiner, of Ashland, Kan., marked their winning score from a leadoff draw in the nine-horse finals.
Brandon’s mom, Janet, finished fourth in the same finals riding Just As Reckless to earn $4,720. His dad, NCHA Open Hall of Fame Rider Russ, assisted his wife and his son during their two runs.
“My parents gave him to me last fall (at the conclusion of his 4-year-old season),” Brandon said of “Ben.” “It took me a while to get used to him, but it’s just been a blast.”
Russ simply said he was “pretty proud” of his son. Brandon and Gentle Ben are likely to compete again at July’s NCHA Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth.
Reserve Champions Kelsey Conn, 21, of Hempstead, Texas, and 7-year-old gelding Boon Tooth (Mr Boonsmal To You x Squirrel Tooth Alice x CD Olena) earned $7,539 with a 219.
“We just got him in January,” she said of the horse owned by her parents, David and Laura, of Hempstead, Texas. Conn and Boon Tooth placed third in the Non-Pro during the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting’s early-season stop in Houston.
After finishing fourth behind her son in the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting Non-Pro, Janet Westfall stepped it up to tie for the Classic/Challenge Non-Pro Championship June 15 riding Just As Reckless. Their score of 222 matched that of Steven Feiner and Thundercat, earning each duo $7,545.
“I wanted to mark more than a 220, because he [Brandon] has really been showing me up lately,” Janet said with a smile. Just As Reckless (CD Royal x Trouble Lyn x Smart And Trouble) is a 6-year-old mare who has now earned about $150,000.
“I come meet Wes the day before shows, focus on cutting, and stay until the end,” Feiner said, referring to Thundercat’s trainer, Wes Galyean. Thundercat is possibly his once-in-lifetime horse, he added. This is the first time Feiner and Thundercat had won a limited-age title together, but they had come close several prior times during the past two years.
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