The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Classic Non-Pro finals was jam-packed with talent. Twenty-seven horses competed for prize money and bragging rights, and several recognizable names made appearances.
Three horses scored over a 220, with the NCHA’s first Non-Pro Triple Crown winners, Armando Costa Neto and Watch Me Whip, taking third with a 222.5. Coming in second were Traci Burgess and La Deja Vu, who scored a 223. But it was Blakley Colgrove and Paradox Cat, bred by Drs. M.J. and Sue Christensen, who marked a big 225 to take home the Championship and a $17,412 paycheck.
Colgrove’s usual trainer, Equi-Stat Elite $6 Million Rider Austin Shepard, was out of commission after throwing out his back, so his father, Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider Sam, stepped into Colgrove’s corner. He had a little advice for her during her run.
“Go up, leave my hand down, don’t get too much in the bit – just go up there and cut, and have fun,” Colgrove explained.
Though her parents were at home in Boligee, Alabama, they did not miss her huge accomplishment.
“My dad and [mom] both watched, and they just said it was so good and they loved it,” Colgrove said with a smile.
Paradox Cat, nicknamed “Hayden” after trainer Hayden Upton, who won the Classic Limited Open earlier in the week, now boasts lifetime earnings of $124,405, while Colgrove’s stand at $563,922. Colgrove has watched the 6-year-old gelding (High Brow Cat x Thimblerey x Dual Rey) progress quite a bit over the last few years.
“He’s a lot more mature than he used to be,” she said. “We ended up cutting [gelding] him his 4-year-old year. After that, he’s just improved a lot.”
Burgess and her homebred La Deja Vu received $15,824 for the Reserve Championship. The 6-year-old mare is by Cat Ichi and out of the Choice Acres mare La Femme Nikita.
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