The 2016 National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby preliminaries wrapped up June 16 in Paso Robles, California, determining the finalists in three Open and three Non-Pro divisions. Those riders will compete with a clean slate on Saturday, June 18, for their respective championships.
The preliminary scores also determined the champions in four Derby divisions: the Level 1 Limited Open, Open Novice Horse, Amateur and Non-Pro Limited.
Winning the Level 1 Limited Open Championship with a tremendous 20.5 point margin was Showmethe Cat (Cat T Masterson x Say Showmethe Money x Nu Cash), owned and shown by Hollister, California, horseman Brendon Clark.
The 2011 gelding earned a 640 composite score (210 herd/213 rein/217 fence) and took home a $6,929 check. The Level 1 Limited Open title also came with a Gist buckle, a CowTrac system sponsored by CowTrac and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance.
Clark, a former professional bull rider, was elated by the win, his first NRCHA Premier Event Championship.
“There are a lot of similarities between bull riding and the cow horse, in that it’s very unpredictable. You have two animals involved, and anything can happen. People laugh at me when I say this [reined cow horse] is the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but I mean it. Riding bulls is tough and physically demanding, but there are so many variables in this sport – cattle, horses, keeping your horse sound and happy. One day you come out and everything’s good, and then it can all fall apart. It’s a whole different ball game when you come to the show and walk into that arena by yourself. It truly is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Clark said.
He credited some of his horsemanship mentors, leading NRCHA professionals Phillip Ralls, Nick Dowers and Corey Cushing, as well as reining specialist Warwick Schiller, for helping him through challenges in the training process.
“It’s easier to make mistakes than it is to do things right, and I wouldn’t be here or be able to win anything if it wasn’t for everybody helping me,” Clark said.
He still has a few more runs ahead in Paso Robles, because Showmethe Cat’s 640 composite score was enough to qualify for Saturday’s clean-slate Limited Open finals.
Open Novice Horse continued on page 2