The final installment of the 2018 Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting, held at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, turned out to be a family affair as one horse – Dont Stopp Believin – carried both husband and wife Phil and Mary Ann Rapp to the Open and Non-Pro championships, respectively, after marking the same score with each.
Dont Stopp Believin and Equi-Stat Elite $9 Million Rider Phil won the Open title after marking a 226 in the finals. They added $11,715 to their bankroll, which pushed the 2011 stallion’s lifetime earnings past the $400,000 mark and secured his spot in the NCHA Hall of Fame.
Phil described the weather at the show as abnormally hot for Columbus, Ohio, in October. That made the cattle, which had already begun growing a winter coat, a little sticky. As the 12thdraw of the first go-round and the last in the finals, Phil’s goal was to get good, positive cuts in the middle of the pen.
“All of the cattle were fresh and it made for shape cuts,” Phil said. “We were able to get big plusses up here because we cut standing still.”
At the beginning of this year, Phil and Mary Ann outlined two goals for their stallion. The first was to have him become the highest-earning son of Dual Rey, an achievement he celebrated in March. The second was to secure his spot in the NCHA Hall of Fame.
Dont Stopp Believin was bred to 156 mares this season and is currently in the Top 15 as both an Open and Non-Pro horse. In addition to his success in the show pen, he a special horse because of his bloodline’s ties to Phil’s childhood. For starters, he is out of cutting’s highest-earning mare Dont Look Twice (by High Brow Cat), a daughter of Tapt Twice.
“He goes back five generations to the mare Tapeppyoka Peppy that my dad bought me when I was 14,” Phil said. “What makes him extra special is that he was a gift as an embryo from Louis and Corliss Baldwin.”
While at the Congress, the duo also won the NCHA Open Cutting with a finals score of 149, which paid $1,702.
“We were three for three at the Congress,” Phil said. “Everything went exceptionally well.”
The Open Reserve Championship went to Hashtags and Tatum Rice for owners Hashtag Ventures after the duo marked a 222 in the finals. The 5-year-old blue roan stallion (Metallic Cat x Dual Rey Tag x Dual Rey), who was bred by Jim Haworth, of South West City, Missouri, took home $8,343 to owner Hashtags Ventures.
After marking a 222.5 to take third in the first go, Mary Ann, an Equi-Stat Elite $4 Million Rider, and Dont Stopp Believin also scored an impressive 226 in the finals to earn a $9,654 paycheck.
As the last draw of the first-go, Mary Ann said she was in survival mode and had the goal of going in and cutting in the middle. She was able to work two fresh cows and had to cut one re-run. In the finals, she drew a better position – third. She had her eye on four cows and was able to get three cut.
The first was a black cow that settled well. The second, a red, didn’t work quite as good as she thought it would, but was still good enough to earn points. The third, a black baldy, cut right in the center.
“He is such a fantastic horse and is always on his game,” Mary Ann said of Dont Stopp Believin. “He’s incredibly intelligent – he’s a lot like his mother in that way – and he’s a lot stronger than anything I’ve ever shown.
“The Mercuria has meant so much to NCHA, and we wanted to support the association by coming up to compete in the final event of the series,” she added. “It is an incredible privilege to have won the last one.”
After the Congress, Mary Ann plans to show the stallion in the aged events at the Waco Texas Futurity and the Southern Cutting Futurity in Jackson, Mississippi, before heading to the American Quarter Horse Association Lucas Oil World Championship Show in early November. She is qualified to compete in the Amateur division, and Phil will compete in the Open.
A 221 in the finals earned Lauren Middleton and Sweet Reyvenge the Mercuria Non-Pro Reserve title. The 2008 gelding (Reys Dual Badger x Sweet Camille x Chicks Achy Braky), bred by Bobby and Francie Butler, of Weatherford, Texas, and his rider made the Non-Pro finals with a 219, and their Reserve Championship was worth a $7,641 payday.