As the second half of the 2015 Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting begins, the race for NCHA World titles is heating up. The any-age events are offering a chance for Open and Non-Pro horses and riders to widen their lead or jump up in the standings. For Special Nu Baby, who was leading the Open by a wide margin before the fifth leg of the series, her most recent win in Las Vegas keeps her at the top of the list.
Special Nu Baby (Dual Rey x Nu I Wood x Zack T Wood), bred by Crystal Creek Ranch, of Aledo, Texas, carried her trainer, Equi-Stat Elite $7 Million Rider Matt Gaines, of Weatherford, Texas, to the Mercuria Open Championship on Saturday, Aug. 22, after marking a scorching 229 from the first draw in the seven-horse finals. As a reward for their performance, the duo garnered $10,407 for owner Barker Ranch LLC, of Madill, Oklahoma.
Before arriving in Las Vegas for The Man Event, “Baby” was leading the NCHA Open World standings by more than $26,000. At the previous leg of the Mercuria series, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the mare finished Reserve in the Open. Her closest rival, Smart Stingrey (Dual Rey x Smart Sandhill Kay x Smart Mate), won the Las Vegas Mercuria Open go-round and left the finals with another $1,900 to add to his year total.
The Mercuria Open Reserve Championship went to Peptos Chic Olena (Sweet Lil Pepto x Chic Olenas Promise x Smart Chic Olena), owned by Lauren Mcintire, of Goleta, California, after the 9-year-old mare marked a 224 with Todd Bimat, of Orland, California, in the saddle. Peptos Chic Olena was sitting 11th in the World coming into the Mercuria. Her $8,280 paycheck elevates her to No. 6.
In a repeat from 2014, Westfall piloted Gentle Ben to the title. The gelding (CD Royal x PG Selena x Playgun), owned by his parents, Russ and Janet Westfall, marked a huge 228 for the win.At just 15 years old, Brandon Westfall, of Los Olivos, California, picked up his second Mercuria Non-Pro Championship.
Westfall and Gentle Ben drew fourth in the 11-horse pack. In a class that started slow due to tough cows, Westfall kept his composure and wowed the crowd with his and the gelding’s speed and precision. In return, he pocketed a $6,541 paycheck. While the young cutter said he hasn’t been considering trying to make the top 15 in the NCHA Non-Pro World standings, he said he may make a late run for it now.
Gentle Ben, bred by Mark and Eva Gardiner, of Ashland, Kansas, is by the Westfall family’s stallion, CD Royal. That made the win extra special to Westfall, whose Equi-Stat record now exceeds $145,000. The gelding’s lifetime earnings surpassed the $90,000 with this performance, making him the leading money-earner out of PG Selena.
Brandon Dufurrena, of Gainesville, Texas, picked up the Mercuria Non-Pro Reserve Championship after riding Purple Reyn (Metallic Cat x Miss Ella Rey x Dual Rey) to a final-round 223. The $5,768 check elevates Dufurrena to No. 16 in the World.
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