Cody Gann’s New Year’s resolution was to win a Junior Youth World Championship. Achieving it took until the very last run of the point year.
The Leighton, Alabama, rider went into the National Youth Cutting Horse Association (NYCHA) World Finals leading by a single point over his friend and fellow cutter, Lyndi Polk, of Edwards, Mississippi.
When they each earned 8 points in the go-rounds of the World Finals, that sent them into the final round still only one point apart. Given the complexities of the point system used to determine the show’s champions, such a close margin meant a really good run from either competitor could be enough to win the title.
As the first draw, Gann was the first of the two to make a run. He and his horse, Hevvy Metal, delivered with a 220-point performance.
Polk didn’t go until draw 13, and Gann said the seconds seemed to drag as he waited for Polk’s run aboard Dual Smart Dee Jay.
“Felt like a couple hours,” Gann said later “It felt forever!”
Polk wound up having bad luck and marked a 182. That meant Gann won the title with 136 year-end points to Polk’s 125.
In spite of the loss, Polk maintained her poise as she rode out of the arena. The crowd at Will Rogers rewarded her sportsmanship with a loud ovation. Gann’s mother, Brandye Gann, also had high praise for for the Mississippi rider.
“We love her. She is the best child,” she said. “She’s the sweetest little girl and the world.”
Gann and Polk are friends, and maintained their friendship throughout the long point year and intense cutting competition.
“No matter what happens in the arena, all year long, five minutes later you would never even know they were at a horse show,” Brandye Gann said. “They’re just playing, running together, and they cheer for each other. I’m just so proud of her and she’s done phenomenal.”
In addition to winning the year-end Junior Youth World Championship, Gann also won the Junior Youth World Finals Show C hampionship by accumulating the most points, 18, during the show held in conjunction with the NCHA Summer Spectacular.
The Junior Youth World Finals Show Reserve Champion was Jade Mitchell and TOF Smooth Operator. The rider from Perrin, Texas, and 2012 gelding (Smooth As A Cat x Rio CD Yadayadayada x CD Olena) accumulated 11 points during the show.
Gann’s horse, Hevvy Metal, is a 2010 gelding by Equi-Stat Elite $27 Million Sire Metallic Cat. Bred by Cindy Ann Smith, of Capitan, New Mexico, Hevvy Metal has more than $138,473 in lifetime winnings, which makes him the leading earner of his dam, Dual Nurse. The daughter of Dual Pep has produced the earners of more than $517,000.
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