Since their show pen debut at the 2018 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity, where they finished sixth in the Amateur finals, Grant Martin, of Hensley, Arkansas, and CD Stylish Catt, bred by Ronald Varvera, of Fredericktown, Missouri, have been on one successful run after another — qualifying for the finals in each event they have entered.
The pair’s first championship title together happened Thursday, July 25, after they scored a winning 217 in the Metallic Cat NCHA Summer Spectacular’s Rios of Mercedes Derby Amateur finals. They earned a $6,396 paycheck, which increased Martin’s lifetime earnings to $44,245 and CD Stylish Catt’s Equi-Stat record to $20,145.
In January of this year, Martin and CD Stylish Catt (Sophisticated Catt x CD Top Girl x CD Olena) tied for seventh in the Derby Amateur finals at The Ike Derby and Classic; placed seventh in the Derby Amateur finals at February’s Arbuckle Mountain Futurity and Derby; and were the Derby Amateur Reserve champions at The Non Pro Aged Event.
Before arriving in Fort Worth, the practice pen for Martin and “Sophie,” as the mare is called, did not include cattle. Preparing at home to compete at a mega super show as big as the NCHA Summer Spectacular without cattle — with only the use of a cutting flag — may sound like a real handicap to some cutters, but Martin and Sophie’s Amateur win proved it can be done.
“I just have a flag [to work] at home, so I can keep her tuned up and make her be correct, and we hit a few weekend shows [before the Summer Spectacular] to get ourselves prepared,” Martin said.
Thrilled with his Amateur finals run, Martin said the run went really well, but added, “It was a little nerve-racking marking a 217 and being that early [in the draw] because there were a lot of good horses in that group that definitely could have done well.
“Our first two cows that we cut were cows that we’d [already] picked, so that worked out,” he added. “My last cow was set up where we needed it to be and where I could just drive it up and throw down. It [the run] was good, and it all worked out.”
Martin has had Sophie since she was 2. He purchased the mare from his friend and trainer Ryan Moore, of Birch Tree, Missouri, who had started the mare and who Martin rides with.
“She’s just real personable and wants to be your best friend,” Martin said of Sophie, who he described as easy to work with and show. “She is just a real sweet horse.”
A junior at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Martin is majoring in accounting. He laughed as he explained his educational plan.
“We [Martin and his parents, Terry and Carolyn] thought I needed to get a degree to help pay for my cutting,” he said.
“I have to thank God for providing me the opportunity to compete and win and my parents for letting me do all this and for spending money on me,” Martin continued. “And, I’d like to thank my help — Lloyd Cox, Tommy Marvin, Clay Johnson and Ryan Moore — for putting me on the right cattle and diligently working to get me there, and then the [show] sponsors — Rios of Mercedes and Metallic Cat — for providing this show.”
The next planned stop on Martin’s show schedule is September’s Cotton Stakes, followed by a few weekend shows.