Two cows into a great run in the first-ever Invitational Amateur Blow Out in Vegas, Virginia Kilduff threw caution to the wind. In her final cut – with everybody watching – she gathered her courage and chipped her last cow.
It was something that hadn’t always worked out for Kilduff, but the Prescott, Arizona, cutter pointed her horse, Jay Jay Wilson, at that last bovine like she chipped cows in her sleep.
“By the grace of God I got into the right spot and chipped him and just trotted right out like I’d seen all the non-pros and open riders do,” she said. “It was just the best cow ever.”
The crowd went wild. Kilduff, who marked a winning 221.5, said she couldn’t hear the buzzer over the cheers of the crowd Saturday night in the arena at the South Point Casino, Hotel & Spa.
“They finally had to remind me it’s time to stop,” she said, of her arena help. “The place was just erupting and it was just my favorite memory.”
Kilduff and Jay Jay Wilson (Wilsons Lil Freckles x Sheza High Chick x High Brow Hickory) were among the twelve horse-and-rider pairs in the finals of the Invitational Amateur Blow Out in Vegas, a new $15,000-added event Rocking K Productions held during The Mane Event V in Las Vegas, Nevada. Open to any amateur rider who hadn’t won $100,000, it attracted 53 competitors in the opening go-round.
The first-ever event was patterned after the Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting series. Although the Blow Out wasn’t a sanctioned part of the series, Rocking K held the finals just prior to those for the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting Non-Pro. Blow Out finalists were introduced alongside the Mercuria Non-Pro and Open finalists and were equals in the high-energy opening ceremony.
Kilduff, who had previously earned roughly $38,000 in her cutting career, said it meant a lot that she, an amateur rider, was included in such a high-profile and lucrative event.
“They treat you like a superstar and it just makes you feel good and confirms that, hey, you’ve done something important here,” said Kilduff, posted her first check in Equi-Stat in 2005. “It was just a lot of fun…Just having Chubby Turner settle the cows – that’s never happened to me before – and, just to have all of the Open riders and Non-Pro riders there.”
Producer Paula Gaughan’s Rocking K Productions put up $15,000 in added money for the Blow Out. That equated in a $5,000 first-place check for Kilduff. Fellow Mike Wood trainee Colette Benson, of Scottsdale, Arizona, took home $4,000 for the Reserve Championship.
Gaughan was thrilled with the response to the event.
“It was just so fabulous,” she said. “I’ve never had so many people come up to me and say ‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is just the most fun we’ve ever had!’’”
She hopes the NCHA latches onto the idea and streamlined format, which is open to any rider who meets the earnings criteria. It did not feature any classes within a class or other add-ons.
In fact, Gaughan said the event was so successful she’s considering expanding the idea at her own shows to include two Blow Outs: One for riders with earnings under $100,000 and another for those who have won $100,000 to $200,000.
“I just hope everybody, other shows, will do it, because I’m telling you, it was fabulous,” she said. “It was just incredible.”
Kilduff hopes other amateurs can have the chance to experience something like the Blow Out.
“I know they had a lot of entries, and there was a handful of people that I talked to [and] they said, ‘I’m not ready for that level yet,’ but they promised to do it next time if there is a next time,” she said. “I think just making it to the finals, everybody was just tickled pink.”
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