At the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Hackamore Classic, held in Pueblo, Colorado, April 29-May 3, a Derby was added to run concurrent with the Hackamore Classic which gave contestants another opportunity to receive checks.
Nocona, Texas, professional Shawn Hays celebrated the biggest NRCHA limited-age event win of his career when he claimed the 2015 Hackamore Classic Open and Intermediate Open Championships aboard Red River Rivalry (Soula Jule Star x Shiners Miss Lena x Shining Spark), scoring a total 582 (144 herd/143 rein/150 cow/145 finals cow).
“I feel like the luckiest gringo on earth,” Hays quipped, referring to Kentucky Derby Champion jockey Victor Espinoza, who called himself the “luckiest Mexican on earth” following his win on American Pharaoh at Churchill Downs earlier on Saturday, May 2, the day of the Hackamore Classic finals in Pueblo, Colorado.
The Hackamore Classic featured a cow-work-only finals, where competitors carried their three herd/rein/cow preliminary scores into the short go. Those preliminary scores, plus the final cow score, determined the champions.
Hays and Red River Rivalry, a 2011 stallion owned in partnership between Hays’ father-in-law, Walter Greeman, and his wife, Tammy Hays, bred by Carol Rose, of Gainesville, Texas, came into the finals with a 437 composite, leading the field of 11 finalists by a scant half-point. Hays said his finals run was not everything he had hoped for, but it was enough to maintain that half-point margin hold for the win.
“My horse was good. In the finals at [the NRCHA Stakes in Las Vegas], he popped out of lead in the rein work, and I was a little nervous to run him hard here in the reining. I was a little conservative and only marked a 143. I had one miss in the cutting, so I gave up a couple of points there. I was a 144 but would have been a 146 without that miss. At these events with just one go-round and the fence-only finals, it’s not like everybody starts back from zero,” Hays said. “In the finals, I was hoping to be a little bigger. You always want to finish up with a huge bang. I didn’t get circled as well as I wanted to that direction, but then he came back and circled huge to the left. That cow was pushing on us the whole time, and the degree of difficulty was there.”
The victory helped dissipate a cloud of tough luck that has been hanging around Hays since last fall. It started when he and Red River Rivalry missed the finals at the 2014 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Then, at the 2015 NRCHA Celebration of Champions and World’s Greatest Horseman in Fort Worth, Texas, Hays and “Red” made the Aaron Ranch Derby Open finals but had trouble down the fence. At the same show, his World’s Greatest Horseman mount, Smart Chic Aloha, made one of the highest scoring herd work runs in the prelims, but then she colicked and had to withdraw.
When asked how he stayed motivated and positive through a slump, Hays immediately replied with a smile, “My wife. It’s pretty much all her. Otherwise, I’d probably get mad and quit. She gets on to me and tells me to quit throwing my lollipop in the dirt.”
He also thanked his herd help and NRCHA Hall of Fame horseman Don Murphy for their help and coaching.
Hays collected $10,157 for the Hackamore Classic Championship and $2,645 for the Intermediate Open Championship. He and Red River Rivalry also won the concurrent Open Hackamore class, which paid $2,850; the Pueblo Derby Open, which paid $3,723; and the Pueblo Derby Intermediate Open, good for another $1,163. The five Championship checks totaled more than $20,500. Hays also took home a Bob’s Custom Saddle, three Gist buckles, gift certificates from Santa Cruz Animal Health, gift certificates from Farnam and custom sheets from Classic Equine.
The Hackamore Classic Open Reserve Champion was Reys Stressin Melody (Reys Dual Badger x Playguns Melody x Playgun), who finished with a 581.5 total score (141 herd/143.5 rein/152 cow/145 finals cow). The 2011 mare was shown by Matt Koch for owner and breeder Wagonhound Land and Livestock, of Douglas, Wyoming. The Reserve Championship paid $8,126.
Riding Truly Screyumptious, a 2011 mare he calls “by far the best horse I’ve ever had to show,” Wade Meador claimed the Hackamore Classic Limited Open Championship and earned checks in the Intermediate and Open divisions.
Truly Screyumptious (Dual Smart Rey x Meleena Olena x Smart Chic Olena) came into the finals riding high in the composite with a 435.5, which included a huge 151 preliminary cow work score.
“She’s so quick footed and cowy – you just put her on that cow and wait, and she takes care of the rest of it. It’s easy for her, and she’s smart,” Meador said.
His triple payday totaled $5,500. The Limited Open Championship also came with a CowTrac system, sponsored by CowTrac, a Gist buckle and a custom sheet from Classic Equine.
Meador has high hopes for the future with Truly Screyumptious, who is owned by Scottsbluff, Nebraska-based Flag Ranch. He picked the fancy sorrel mare out as a yearling from the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Sales in Fort Worth, Texas.
“She’s been a project because she’s super feely and sensitive. It took a long time to get her trust. The more I show her, the more solid she gets. She’s always been real cow smart and athletic, but she’s also like my nemesis because if one little thing goes wrong, it takes away from the big picture. There’s so much hope there for her that it just keeps getting better each time,” Meador said.
Level 1 Limited Open
Richard Winters rode Bugs Boony (Peptoboonsmal x Shiney Tari x Shining Spark), a gelding he owns, to a pair of Level 1 Limited Open Championships in both the Hackamore Classic and Pueblo Derby.
Winters and Bugs Boony scored a 426.5 composite (141 herd/140.5 rein/145 cow) for the wins. The Hackamore Classic title paid $1,410 and came with a Gist buckle and a custom sheet from Classic Equine. Winters collected another $776 for the Pueblo Derby Championship.
They also earned the Classic Limited Open Reserve title and earn checks in the Classic and Derby Open and Intermediate Open levels, as well as in the Derby Limited Open. In total, the duo garnered a $6,469 paycheck.
The 2010 gelding, bred by Carol Rose, of Gainesville, Texas, has an Equi-Stat record of more than $22,900 with his earnings in Colorado. Winters now has lifetime earnings of more than $56,000, according to Equi-Stat.
The 2010 mare, with NRCHA Professional Tom Neel, Millsap, Texas, in the saddle, won the Open Novice Horse Championship with a total 426 (143 herd/140 rein/143 cow). For their winning performance, the duo garnered a $2,093 paycheck for owner Claire Armstrong, of Weatherford, Texas, and came with a custom sheet from Classic Equine.
Hal O Matic (Halreycious x Miss Hickory Hill x Doc’s Hickory), bred by James Eakin, of Hondo, Texas, now has earnings of more than $5,000 and is the sixth money-earner out of her dam. Neel’s lifetime earnings, according to Equi-Stat are more than $270,000.
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