Lance Cooper and Zen And Tonic won their fourth title with a score of 222. The latest came at The Cattlemens Derby and Classic, where they won the 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Championship.
“I’m okay with that being my lucky number,” laughed the laid-back teenager. “I’d take that score any day.”
In the first go, Cooper, 17, was the first draw in the second set out of 36 total riders. He figured he’d need a 216 to make it back to the finals because several riders had earned big scores. His 216.5 advanced him to the finals on Sunday, March 11.
“It was hard being the first to go in the [second] set in the first go around,” he said. “I focused on having a good, clean run.”
Heading into the 12-horse finals, Cooper was ninth in the draw. Lee Holsey, riding Smooth Lil Cowtown (Smooth As A Cat x Sweet Lil Cowtown x Sweet Lil Pepto), set the standard early in the set as the second rider to show by marking a 218.
Cooper was also closely watching Paula Wood aboard Cool N Hot (Hottish x Donas Cool Cat x High Brow Cat), the 2018 Bonanza Cutting 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Champions. Wood has marked multiple scores in the 220s this season, and Cooper would ride immediately after her. When her 213 was posted, he knew if he made three clean cuts, he had a good shot at winning.
“The cows got really tough, but there were three or four I really liked going in,” he said. “My first was a yellow Brahman. Then I had a yellow horn cow. After that I cut out what was on top.”
At the end of his run, he unofficially marked a 219. The judges thought he had a hot quit and took 10 minutes to review his go. After the review was finished, his official score increased to a 222, and along with the Championship, he received a check for $6,000.
“She’s been performing perfect all year,” Cooper said of Zen And Tonic. “She is one of the easiest horses to ride on the ranch and makes showing fun. She is the kind of horse that makes you wake up and go ride every morning.”
Cooper’s family purchased Greg Coalson-bred Zen And Tonic (High Brow CD x Dual Citizen x Dual Pep) in late 2017, and the team has been hard to beat. Previous wins include the 2017 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Limited Non-Pro Co-Championship, the 2018 Abilene Spectacular 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Championship and the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity 4-Year-Old Non-Pro title.
“R.L. Chartier rides with me every time I show and does a really good job for me,” Cooper said.
He plans to continue showing the mare this season with the NCHA Super Stakes likely being their next stop.