Give trainer Justin Wright a chance to talk about Shiners Diamond Cat, and he’ll laud her intelligence, talent and class. And, the mare’s win Saturday in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Derby Open? He was thrilled – for her.
“I don’t know how to explain it other than she’s got a great mind, she’s always on your team and I’ve never ridden anything so talented,” said Wright of Santa Maria, California. “So, it’s just very gratifying that she was able to win something. This was way, way more about her than me.”
It took a stellar effort for Wright and the 2014 mare (WR This Cats Smart x Shiners Diamond Lady x Shining Spark) to win this year’s big prize at the show held June June 10-17 in Paso Robles, California.
They kicked off the finals by winning the herd work with a 225, and then marked a 221.5 in the rein work. Wright, who won last year’s Derby Open Championship with Lil Bay Hawk, knew he needed a big fence run to secure his second straight title.
“I knew we had to be big, but, you know, I didn’t want to force anything,” he said. “I just wanted to let it play out the way it was going to play out.”
Their 225.5 in the cow work made for a composite of 672. It was just enough to withstand a charge from Clayton Edsall, who marked a 228, twice, with a pair of half-siblings out of the mare Sparking Train – Bet He Sparks (by Bet Hesa Cat) and Metallic Train (by Metallic Cat).
Bet He Sparks and Edsall earned the Derby Open Reserve Championship and Intermediate Open Championship with a 670 (219 herd/223 rein/228 cow). Metallic Train’s composite of 661.5 (219 herd/214.5 rein/228 cow) earned her the Derby Intermediate Open Reserve Championship.
The first-place check of $30,989 in Paso Robles pushed Shiners Diamond Cat’s lifetime earnings to more than $115,000 and Wright’s to more than $795,000. Her previous best efforts include the Open Reserve Championship at this year’s NRCHA Cow Horse Classic Derby and a huge 669.5 composite in the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open preliminary round.
Wright found the Wagonhound Land & Livestock-bred mare for owners Mike and James Draper at last year’s NRCHA Stallion Stakes, where the then 3-year-old was part of Roger and Cynthia Bias’ string.
“I saw her and just at first sight of [Roger] riding her around, I fell in love with her,” he said. “And then I got to work her a few days there at the Stakes and I knew I had to have her.”
In addition to being excited for Shiners Diamond Cat, Wright was glad to get a big win for her owners.
“They’ve been so good to me and they’re such kind people and always 100 percent in your corner, and it’s an honor to be able to have this horse for them,” he said. “They’ve given me huge opportunities.”
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