The Idaho Cutting Horse Association (ICHA) Futurity featured a Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting Open and Non-Pro in Nampa, Idaho. The Ford Idaho Center witnessed some of the toughest competitors going head to head with fast cattle that demanded excellence from these equine athletes.
Many rose to the challenge, eliciting roaring approval from the crowd, but as the buzzer sounded and the reins were raised, it was Hashtags and Tatum Rice who were named the Mercuria Open Champions.
Rice, an Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider, and Hashtags (by Metallic Cat) marked a staggering 233 from the first draw to lead the finals. When the dust settled as the last competitor left the show pen, the duo claimed the title with an 11-point lead on the competition.
Hashtags, owned by Hashtags Ventures LP and bred by Jim Haworth, added another $10,178 to his prior Equi-Stat record of $349,587, which excludes much of 2018’s weekend money. The 5-year-old stallion was the Mercuria Open Champion at the Calgary Stampede in July and Reserve in the Mercuria Open finals in August at the West Texas Futurity.
With Rice in the saddle, the stallion (out of Dual Rey Tag x Dual Rey) has been unstoppable in the show pen, taking the ICHA Futurity 5/6-Year-Old Open title earlier this week. The duo won the Classic/Challenge Open at the Breeder’s Invitational and 5/6-Year-Old Open at the Bonanza Cutting, and took Reserve in the Classic Open at the Augusta Futurity, as well.
Rice said in an interview earlier this year that he hopes Hashtags isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime horse. The stallion has also been campaigned on the weekend circuit this year, and he is well on his way to becoming the NCHA Open World Champion.
The Reserve title in the Mercuria Open finals went to Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider Morgan Cromer and Bishop Ranch-bred Stylish Look Bella (Dual Smart Rey x Stylishious x Docs Stylish Oak), who marked a 222. The team brought home a check for $8,059 for owners Marvin and Paulette Teixeira, of Santa Maria, California.
Ichis My Choice was the judges’ choice in the Mercuria Non-Pro finals. It was a seven-horse field loaded with talent, but Constance Jaeggi piloted the 2016 NCHA Open Horse of the Year to the lead from the fourth draw with a score of 231.
“It felt really good! After my first cow turned out good, then I got the adrenaline going and I was riding her better than I usually ride her. She was feeding off of that, I think,” said Jaeggi, who has earned more than $638,000 since her first check in 2005, according to Equi-Stat. “It was really intense, probably the best run I’ve ever had. It was a career high. I don’t think I’ve ever marked a 231 before!”
The 6-year-old mare by Cat Ichi and out of My Little Abra (by Abrakadabracre), who was bred by EE Ranches of Texas Inc., of Dallas, has had quite the career. The earner of more than $400,000 claimed the 2017 NCHA Summer Spectacular Classic/Challenge Open; the Mercuria Open title at the 2016 El Rancho Futurity; the 2016 NCHA Super Stakes Open Reserve Championship; and the Breeder’s Invitational Derby Open Championship to name a few, all with Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider Grant Setnicka in the saddle.
“I’m riding a pretty special mare,” Jaeggi said of “Abba,” whose success in the show pen has earned her certain privileges in the barn, as well. “She’s a diva! She’s awesome at what she does, she’s so gritty, but she’s not the mare that wants to come love on you. She’s all attitude. She gets to do whatever she wants when she’s that good.”
Throughout the majority of Abba’s career, Jaeggi has let Setnicka take the reins whenever needed to achieve the lofty goals they set for her, such as Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame accolades. With those dreams accomplished, Setnicka encouraged Jaeggi to enjoy the mare’s final limited-age season.
“Grant’s letting me ride her the rest of the year. He’s riding her in the 5/6-Year-Old Open, but he’s letting me ride her in the Mercuria,” Jaeggi explained. “It’s been a lot of fun, and I think what makes it even more special is that we plan to retire her at the end of this year so that next year she can hopefully carry a baby.”
The team has plans to show at the El Rancho Futurity and then head to Las Vegas, where the mare will make her last cuts under the bright lights before she begins her new career as a broodmare.
“It’s kind of cool to be able to have such a good run on her at one of her last shows,” Jaeggi said. “She’s a special horse.”