For veteran National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity competitors Mandy McCutcheon and Kelle Smith, it’s still exciting to have their names associated with the high score at the end of finals night. But it’s even more thrilling to go head-to-head in a run-off to determine the CINCH NRHA Futurity Level 4 Non-Pro Champion.
After tying with scores of 216.5, the competitors chose to do a run-off to crown the winner. Smith was up first, riding her stallion, Night Time Spook (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Custom Night Time x Custom Crome), into the pen. Despite a slight stumble, the pair’s score improved over their original with a 217.5.
McCutcheon and Best Nite Ever (Gunners Special Nite x Best By Benz x Smart Starbuck), nominated by Lisa Stafford-Johnson, next slid to a 219, winning the 2017 CINCH NRHA Futurity Level 4 Non-Pro crown.
“I just tried to be smoother the second time,” said McCutcheon, the NRHA’s leading money-earning Non-Pro and a Million Dollar Owner. “She does everything real dynamic and powerful; I tried to just be smoother instead of forcing her into things.”
The plan worked, as the mare – a Legacy Sale purchase for Mandy and her husband, NRHA Million Dollar Rider Tom – added $42,274 to the lifetime earnings of the NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider. The win was McCutcheon’s eighth NRHA Futurity Non-Pro Championship, and her first since 2013.
Smith’s original finals score of 216.5 was good enough to earn her the Futurity Prime Time Non-Pro Championship on top of her Level 4 Reserve Championship. The check written for $28,640, plus $3,595 from the Prime Time, was a nice bonus, considering she didn’t think her stallion, bred and nominated by Steve Simon, would make it to the big show.
“We didn’t have a lot of time together. I purchased him in June this year, and he was very green,” Smith said.
Another rider who did not have a lot of time to get to know his mount was 17-year-old Cade McCutcheon, winner of the CINCH NRHA Futurity Youth Non-Pro Championship aboard One Stormy Nite (Gunners Special Nite x Whatta Royal Vintage x Hollywood Vintage), owned by the McCutcheons. Cade got the last-minute ride from his father, Tom, after the gelding – bred and nominated by Turnabout Farm Inc. – did not make the Futurity Level 4 Open Silver Spurs Equine Semifinals, also sponsored by Not Ruf At All.
“I rode him as a 2-year-old but have only ridden him three times since then before we showed this week,” Cade said. “He’s very easy to get along with.”
Cade’s third NRHA Futurity Youth Non-Pro Championship, added to his seventh place in Level 4, added $13,551 to his lifetime earnings. He showed two additional horses, tying for 18th with Whizkey N Jewels and 26th with Customized Dually.
Futurity Levels 3, 2 & 1 Non-Pro
Kevin Ball’s first foray into showing a futurity horse proved to be very successful. The mechanical engineer from North Texas showed his mare, This Chic Guns It (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x This Chic Dun It x Hollywood Dun It), to win the Futurity Levels 3, 2 and 1 Non-Pro championships and a tie for third place in Level 4, worth a total paycheck of $70,634.
“She will give you 110 percent of what you ask, and she always has a good attitude and expression,” Ball said. “She’s just gotten better and better as the week went on. I was a little nervous going into the finals, to be honest, and she panicked a little in the left turns, but I got her confidence back as the ride went on.”
The Level 3 Non-Pro Reserve Championship went to Kristen Darnall-Titov and her Gunsup In Tinseltown (Hollywoodstinseltown x Always Gotyer Gunsup x Gunner), a stallion bred and nominated by McQuay Stables Inc. The duo’s 214.5 also placed them fifth in Level 4, and they banked a total of $34,310.
André Lauzon and Sonia Smart Chic (Smart Chic Olena x Miss Poco Whizard x Whizard Jac), a mare bred, owned and nominated by Lauzon, took Reserve honors in the Level 2 Non-Pro and in the Prime Time Non-Pro divisions with their score of 212. They collected $15,748, plus an additional $12,942 for placing fourth in Level 3.
In the Level 1, Alex Purus rode Its Cocktail Hour to a 211.5 for the Reserve Championship and $7,070. The mare (Wimpyneedsacocktail x BH Silver Enterprise x Dualin Gun) is owned by Empire Ranch.
For complete results, live feed and live score, please visit nrhafuturity.com.