The 2018 Cotton Stakes will be the first to test the NCHA's class-restructuring proposal. • Hart Photos.

Cotton Stakes To Be Test Run For NCHA Class-Restructuring Proposal

The class-restructuring proposal under consideration by the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) will be tested at this year’s Cotton Stakes.

The annual limited-aged event, to be held Sept. 2-9 in West Monroe, Louisiana, will be the first show to operate under rules outlined in the proposal. Management will use the version discussed last month at the NCHA Convention in Grapevine, Texas.

“Let me tell you, I saw so much enthusiasm at the convention over this proposal,” said Cotton Stakes show producer Robert Charles Brown. “When we were in the Director’s meeting and they proposed it, 100 percent of everybody in it was for it.”

The show was given permission by the NCHA to try out the limited-aged event restructuring proposal, said Denise Seiz, chair of the NCHA Competition Committee’s subcommittee that researched and crafted the proposal.

Click here to review the proposal.

Seiz said the Cotton Stakes is the only show to have received that permission, as the proposal is still in draft form and has not been formally adopted by the NCHA’s Executive Committee. 

“It is being tested at the Cotton Stakes,” she said.

Officials have said they expect to have a formal class-restructuring proposal before the Executive Committee in October, and the committee members may vote at the NCHA Futurity on whether or not to adopt it. 

The $150,000-added Cotton Stakes will feature Open, Non-Pro and Amateur divisions with three levels in each division – a top, Intermediate and Limited level. Level designation is determined by rider earnings.

Revolving door features in the proposal that allow senior riders or those who weren’t in the top 100 money-earning riders within their level to drop down to the Intermediate will be in effect, Seiz said.

“There’s also a revolving door featured that if you’re not a top 100 rider in the previous point year, you could drop down to the Intermediate. We’re acting like that list does exist,” noted Seiz, who said the lists will be posted on the Cotton Stakes website. “So, I’ve taken 2017 earnings for the year and calculated a top 100 rider list for each division, so even if a rider is in the top level of [the Open, Non-Pro or Amateur division], if they did not win enough to be in the top 100, then they could drop into the Intermediate.”

Seiz said the NCHA also has agreed the 2018 Cotton Stakes will not impact rider eligibility.

“The money won at the Cotton Stakes is going to count toward your lifetime earnings, but it will not affect an individual’s rider eligibility,” she said.

Brown hopes the new system will appeal to riders who may be discouraged competing against top riders in the current NCHA class system.

“[Denise Seiz and Casey Green] approached me and asked me would I consider doing it, and I jumped right on it at that point, because I just saw the enthusiasm and I think that we’re going to bring a lot of people in that weren’t cutting,” he said.

In addition to raising the show’s added money from $110,000 to $150,000, Brown also added an incentive for any rider who enters all three levels in a division to participate in a drawing for a pair of Klapper Spurs. There are also discounted entry fees for riders who enter more than one level within a division. The deadline to enter is Aug. 20.

More details are expected to be posted on the Cotton Stakes website within the next week.

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