The arena lights dimmed as the second day of Non-Pro competition ended at the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. With 663 entries across Levels 4-1, the Non-Pro featured many talented horse-and-rider combinations.This year’s Derby Non-Pro entries are the highest in history – nearly 13 percent higher than the previous record-setting edition in 2017.
Scoring a 218.5 in the first day of competition was enough for Cade McCutcheon and Dual Reality (Mister Nicadual x Snip O Chex x Nu Chex To Cash) to stay on top of the leaderboard in the Level 4 and Youth divisions. Owned by Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, the 5-year-old gelding was bred and nominated by Cinder Lakes Ranch.
McCutcheon was surprised his score held throughout day two, but he credited the judges for remaining consistent across both days.
“I feel pretty good about how I rode, so I am sticking to the same plan during the finals,” McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon also posted the day’s third-highest score on Customized Dually (Mister Nicadual x Customized Gunner x Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner]), a 4-year-old stallion bred, owned and nominated by McQuay Stables Inc. Together, the pair earned a 217 and a spot in the Level 4 and Youth Non-Pro finals.
Only a half-point behind was McCutcheon’s mom, Mandy, and her mount, Hollywood Starburst. By NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire and Hall of Fame inductee Hollywood Dun It and out of Chic Olena Starbuck (by Smart Starbuck), the dun mare was bred and nominated by Turnabout Farm Inc. and is no stranger to the spotlight. With Mandy aboard, the duo was crowned the 2017 NRHA Derby Level 4 Non-Pro Champions, and they are looking for a repeat win this year.
Also scoring a 218 was Smart Like Juice Inc.’s Wimpy Little Tejano and Mariana Vazquez. Bred by Brent Loseke and nominated by Gilberto Leal, Wimpy Little Tejano is by Wimpys Little Step and out of Tejana Chic (by Smart Chic Olena). Together, he and Vazquez have had much success this year – placing second behind Vazquez’s dad, Jose, in the Carolina Classic Level 4 Non-Pro. The father/daughter team will have their chance to duke it out in the Derby Level 4 Non-Pro finals on Friday night, as Jose qualified on Like Shiner (Smart Like Juice x Wind Her Up Shiner x Shining Spark).
With the Derby Non-Pro preliminary completed, the following scores were needed to advance to the nearly $200,000-added finals:
Level 4 Non-Pro (top 30 horses, plus ties): 213.5
Level 3 Non-Pro (top 25 horses, plus ties): 212.5
Level 2 Non-Pro (top 20 horses, plus ties): 212
Level 1 Non-Pro (top 20 horses, plus ties): 212
Prime Time Non-Pro (top 15 horses, plus ties): 214
Masters Non-Pro (top 15 horses, plus ties): 195.5
Youth Non-Pro (top 15 horses, plus ties): 212.5
During the NRHA Derby, the world’s best 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old reining horses and competitors come to Oklahoma City to compete for an estimated total purse and cash prizes of more than $1 million. The Derby Non-Pro finals start at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, June 29, and the Derby Open finals begin at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 30.