Just four days after winning the Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open in Houston, Dont Stopp Believin and Equi-Stat Elite $9 Million Rider Phil Rapp secured another title at The Cattlemen’s Derby & Classic in Graham, Texas.
From the first draw in the Classic Open finals, Rapp piloted Dont Stopp Believin to a 225 for the Championship. The team left it all in the arena sand with hopes of adding another win to the 6-year-old Waco Bend Ranch Ltd.-bred stallion’s record. They were not disappointed, even though the top seven of the 13 finalists scored a 220 or higher.
“The horse was great and he stayed good through the whole run,” said Rapp, of Weatherford, Texas. “We gave them something to shoot at; sometimes they beat you, sometimes they don’t. Today, we were fortunate.”
That good fortune brought Dont Stopp Believin a $14,000 paycheck, which elevated his Equi-Stat record to $240,286. That impressive figure comes after the Dual Rey stallion, who is out of cutting’s all-time leading mare Dont Look Twice (by High Brow Cat), was strategically campaigned as a 5-year-old.
“There’s two things about that family [Dont Stopp Believin’s maternal line]. They stay very sound and they get better as they get older,” Rapp explained. “We hauled him hard last year, especially in the fall. My plan was to mature that horse and hope we could have something like he is now as a 6-year-old. He’s done really well.”
A look at some of cutting’s biggest limited-age events of 2017 proves just how well the stallion has done. He was the Classic/Challenge Open Champion at the Augusta Futurity in mid-January, then tied for third in the same class at The Ike shortly after. A top 10 finish in the 5/6-Year-Old Open at February’s Bonanza Cutting kept that momentum going until Houston, where the horse made Rapp the first rider to win 10 of the World Series of Cutting events.
“He’s been good, and he’s getting very consistent for us. He’s really done what we’ve asked him to do,” Rapp said, adding that Dont Stopp Believin now balances a breeding schedule with his competitive calendar. “I’m really proud of our horse; we showed him seven days in a row. He’s just a pretty cool horse.”
The $12,500 Reserve Champion payday was awarded to MK Cats Kitty (Spots Hot x MK Cats Lil Kitty x High Brow Cat), who was ridden by Equi-Stat Elite $4 Million Rider John Mitchell to a 223.5 for owner/breeder Slate River Ranch, of Weatherford, Texas.
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