While some competitors might still be recovering from the 2014 show season, the competition never rests and 2015 is in full swing. During the Abilene Spectacular, held Jan. 3-11 at the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, Texas, cutters are already celebrating their first victories of the season.
Tarin Rice and CR Tuff Lucy (Woody Be Tuff x Lucindas Catolena x High Brow Cat) placed fourth in the Open at the 2014 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity, but they took Abilene by storm. In the first go-round of the 4-Year-Old Open, the duo marked a 216, which secured them a spot in the second go-round, where they remained consistent with a 216.5. Their composite score of 432.5 was enough to move them into the finals.
Entering the finals as draw 19 out of 32, they had to mark a score that would hold, and that’s just what they did. Rice and CR Tuff Lucy, owned and bred by Center Ranch, of Centerville, Texas, scored a whopping 225, which gave them a 7-point lead on their competitors and earned the 4-Year-Old Open Championship.
There were 15 horse-and-rider teams competing in the 5/6-Year-Old Open finals and it was clear that earning the title would not come easily. Lloyd Cox and RW Rockin entered the finals as the second draw and marked a 220. Their score was the one to beat until John Mitchell and Junie Wood walked to the herd.
The 2014 NCHA Horse of the Year, Junie Wood (Nitas Wood x Tuffs Junie x Tuff Lena) proved once again why she is a champion. As draw 10 in the first go-round of the 61-entry class, Mitchell piloted Junie Wood to a 216.5 to advance. In the second go-round, the duo drew near the bottom of the last set to work and marked a 220 to bring their composite score to a 436.5, which secured them a spot in the finals.
In the finals, the duo stepped it up and marked a 220.5, earning them the 5/6-Year-Old Open Championship and a $16,000 check for owner Slate River Ranch, of Weatherford, Texas.
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