For the second night in a row, Robert Thigpen found himself staring down a red calf as the seconds oh-so-slowly ticked off the clock at the end of his run in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Super Stakes.
On Friday night (April 20), that first red bovine had gotten the best of him and a mare named Ruby Rita — dashing past them in the final seconds on in the Classic Amateur finals. The next day, the Chilton, Texas, resident and Ruby Rita’s full sister, Metallic Rita, avenged that loss by holding their calf at bay and marking a winning 215.5 in the Super Stakes Amateur on Saturday (April 21) in Will Rogers Coliseum.
“Last night I got run over by a red cow and the third one I cut [in the Amateur] was red here, and it was getting a little tough right at the end and I was thinking, ‘Not again, please!’,” he said with a laugh after riding Metallic Rita in Saturday’s class.
The win was a popular one at Will Rogers, with the crowd rallying behind Thigpen during each of his runs. Thigpen has been a cutting competitor for about 15 years, getting into the business after initially only participating as a cattle supplier.
“Finally I told a friend of mine, I said ‘What’s the deal with this cutting?’ He said, ‘Well, have you ever ridden one?’ I said no, so I rode one at his house,” Thigpen recalled, then grinned. “And shouldn’t have ever done it.”
Thigpen can joke, because he’s pretty well been doing the cutting thing ever since he rode that first horse. The best part of cutting is the people he has met along the way.
“They just fit in with my lifestyle,” Thigpen said.
He’s also been a regular check-getter – especially in the Amateur and Senior Amateur classes — at limited-age cuttings throughout the country since stepping into the show ring in 2004. He’s had a number of wins, but sisters Metallic Rita and Ruby Rita — both by Metallic Cat and out of Pats Little Senorita (by Little Pat Uno) — have played a big part in his highlight reel in the past few seasons.
At last year’s NCHA Futurity, Thigpen and Metallic Rita made the Amateur finals, placed fourth in the Amateur Senior and made the Unlimited Amateur semifinals. The mare, who also competed in the Open with Grant Setnicka, had a bankroll of $20,761 going into the 2019 Super Stakes.
Ruby Rita had a far larger bankroll — $72,801 – thanks to finalist performances with Setnicka at the 2018 NCHA Summer Spectacular, Super Stakes and a number of other limited-age events. With Thigpen aboard, Ruby Rita was fourth in the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Derby Senior Amateur and fifth in the Derby Amateur.
Thigpen plans to keep at it. Next up, is the Breeder’s Invitational.
Click here for full results of the NCHA Super Stakes Amateur.
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