The Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting in Las Vegas always attracts big crowds and bigger performances. This year, a new opportunity will be given to amateurs to have a piece of the action. • Photo by Midge Ames

Amateur Hour

The Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting events are known for bringing high-energy crowds and attracting some of the industry’s greatest any-age athletes. The event is made up of main Open and Non-Pro divisions, but amateurs have been wanting in on a part of the action.

Although the NCHA is not able to add an Amateur division to the its World Series at this time, that didn’t stop a few longtime industry members from putting their heads together to find a solution.

South Point Equestrian Center owner Paula Gaughan spoke with NCHA Vice President Ron Pietrafeso and NCHA Hall of Fame Member Chubby Turner about the issue, and she ultimately decided to add a Mercuria-like Amateur event to the existing The Mane Event V schedule. Rocking K Productions, the organizer of the February Las Vegas cutting, offered $15,000 to the “Invitational Amateur Blow Out In Vegas” purse.

All amateurs who have not won more than $100,000 before the start of 2018 are invited to enter. The division will follow the same rules and guidelines as the existing Mercuria events, but the top three places in the go-round will receive a check. A special bonus will also be given to any rider with less than $50,000 in lifetime earnings who wins the go-round or the finals. In addition, a rider who wins both the go-round and the finals will garner a bonus. All finalists are guaranteed at least one and one-half times the set entry fee.

“I wanted to keep it simple and hold it with the Mercuria,” Gaughan said. “We wouldn’t need to have as many as the Mercurias, but we could just hold it with some of the Mercurias. This is just [for] a true amateur. If you have won less than $100,000, then by gosh, you can show.”

Gaughan has heard nothing but positive feedback about the class addition, and Pietrafeso has spread the word as much as he can to help get the 30 entries needed to hold the event.

“When we couldn’t figure out how to make it work with the Mercuria, she [Gaughan] promised to try to figure something out,” Pietrafeso said in a public post regarding the event change. “Now we need all the amateurs who qualify to attend and show their support. This needs to be a success for it to happen in more places. Originally we were only talking $10,000 for an amateur purse and Paula went above and beyond and made it $15,000. Please show her all your support and don’t forget to thank her and her family.”

For more information about entry fees and rules for the Invitational Amateur Blow Out In Vegas, visit