Stylish Hailee and James Payne marked a 219 to win the West Texas Futurity 3-year-old Open title. • Photo by Katie Marchetti

Stylish Hailee & James Payne Set Trend At West Texas Futurity

The West Texas Futurity debuted a new crop of performers, chomping at the bit to make a name for themselves in the 3-Year-Old Open finals. In the end, Stylish Hailee, piloted by Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider James Payne, rose to the top with a 219 marked from the fifth draw, which remained unchallenged throughout the 15-horse field.

A 2015 Halreycious mare, “Hailee,” who is out of Keep Me In Style (by Docs Stylish Oak), led in the first go as well, where the team marked a 220 to start off the Futurity Open go-rounds on the right hoof.

“The first go I showed just trying to mark a good score; the second run I just tried not to screw it up, especially seeing how my week has been,” Payne explained. “Then, in the finals, I had a plan. I didn’t necessarily know I was going to win it, but I just wanted to get a really good check and not screw up.”

Payne, who recently won the Metallic Cat National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Summer Spectacular Classic/Challenge Open Championship aboard PG Heavily Armed (Playgun x Not Quite An Acre x Bob Acre Doc), hasn’t made a habit of screwing up, and the team went home with a check of $13,500 for their efforts in Amarillo, Texas, as well.

“She’s a really solid mare,” Payne said of the Kathy Knost-bred mare. “What I like most about her is her tightness. She just wants to cut, and she grabs hold of a cow really strong.”

Going into the finals, cattle settled “real quick,” and he knew that the 3-year-old had a “really good look in the middle,” which, according to Payne, made picking his cattle all the more relevant.

“I wanted to find something that would kind of set up,” he said. “I thought the first cow started off a little quick and she might have overreacted once, but then she settled in. The second cow was really, really good, then the third cow wasn’t a cow I really liked, but it just kind of popped out, so we cut it.”

The mare, who is by owned by Kathleen Moore, of Madill, Oklahoma, was purchased from Todd Nelson at the 2017 NCHA Futurity 2-Year-Old Sale Session I for $35,000.

“When we saw her in the sale, we knew that was what we wanted, so we bought her for the small futurities and stuff,” Payne said.

The Reserve title went to Tears From Heaven (Dual Pep x Cat O Connor x High Brow Cat), who was shown by Matt Miller to a 218.5. The duo garnered a check of $12,000 for Rose Valley Ranch of Vail, Colorado.