As Nadine Payne sat astride her home-grown mare Blu Velvet awaiting their turn to perform (as draw 9) in the first set of National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Summer Spectacular Derby Non-Pro finalists, the cattle looked a bit challenging, to say the least.
Focusing on their own upcoming run, Payne and “Princess” clearly controlled the cattle that Payne and her help had pre-picked — from the time they entered the herd until the buzzer sounded. They received a high 221 score that held up through the remaining 13 runs with their nearest competitors — Langston Pattillo and Shesa Tuff Teaspoon (draw 18) — scoring a 220.5 to claim the Reserve championship.
Payne and Princess (Once In A Blu Boon x Velvets Best Shot x Playgun), bred and owned by the Payne and husband, James, of Overbrook, Oklahoma, an Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider, won $17,521 for their finals performance, which increased Princess’s lifetime earnings to $64,294.
Fort Worth Riches
Princess’s winning prize was only part of the staggering $173,324 that Payne and her husband won at the show: James and Summer Time Fun won $32,344 as the Derby Open Co-champions; James and Summer Time Fun also took the $100,000 Metallic Cat Incentive Summer Time Fun for being the highest-placing son or daughter of Metallic Cat in the Open finals; and James and Stylish Hailee won $23,459 for placing third in the Open.
Payne, whose lifetime earnings now total more than $626,818, has won NCHA championship titles in the Will Rogers Coliseum before — the 2014 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Championship astride Great Expectations and at the 2016 Super Stakes Non-Pro Co-Championship riding Blu Velvet’s half brother, Velvets Revolver — but this was her first victory at the NCHA Summer Spectacular.
“I’d won the Futurity and the Super Stakes, but not the Derby, so this is my third “big” win here,” she said.
Payne, who had ridden Princess to a 214 score in the semifinals that tied them for 17th-22nd place in the 22-head finals, said she and Princess hadn’t cut a lot of cows during the go-rounds.
“They [the cows] were pretty non-forward [we were] just trying to survive. Today, we tried to do something bigger, and we did.”
As the Non-Pro finals started, things looked to be a bit hairy with four of the first six finalists losing a cow!
“There were a couple before me that got run over, so I just wanted to drive out far enough and keep them [cows] away from me,” Payne said.
Payne, who was able to cut every cow that she had wanted to cut, said, “Everything went about as good as it could have.”
“The first cut I made was maybe a little scary because there was a black cow in the way that just cleared a little late,” she said. “But it was still clean, and my horse was being very, very smart. She’s a cow horse!”
The wait, as the 13 remaining finalists performed, was long, Payne said.
“There were some very good showmen and very, very good horses to go,” she explained.
Getting Princess Back
Although the Paynes bred and raised Blu Velvet, the mare spent the first couple years of her life in Texas, Payne said.
“We had traded her to the late Bill Masterson for one of his horses when they were babies,” Payne said. “We hadn’t wanted to [trade her] but he [Bill] was like a family member, we loved him, so she went to live in Guthrie, Texas, for a couple years. When Bill passed away, we asked his son if we could buy her back — just because we are very partial to the [mare’s] family. We wanted possession of her again since Bill wasn’t here anymore and we’ve had her since she was a 2-year-old. She’s been really, really good for us.”
Velvets Best Shot, whose lifetime earnings totaled $54,546, has four money-earners, including Blu Velvet and Velvets Revolver ($269,536), sired by WR This Cats Smart; The Golden Shot ($89,537), a full sister to Velvets Revolver; and Blisterbeetle ($24,726), a daughter of Third Cutting. Those four performers have earned a total of (including Blu Velvet’s Derby earnings) $448,093.
And, in addition to all his Open, Non-Pro and Amateur earnings, Velvets Revolver has proved himself to be a stellar Youth horse. The week before his little sister and Payne won the Derby Non-Pro, the gray gelding called “Milhouse” and Will Bushaw won the NCHA Junior Youth Scholarship Cutting.
Payne, who is from Austria and had no ranching or show background, said there are a lot of people she’d like to thank for her success at the Derby.
“Especially James, obviously, because he puts up with me and he does everything for us, ” Payne said. “And, I’d like to thank our help John Johnson, Jennifer Santibanez and Cody Green — they are kind of the backbone of the ranch.”
Payne also wanted to thank James’ parents, Jimmy and Kathy Payne, who live nearby and help look after the Payne’s 2-year-old son, Max, and Payne is also grateful for her mother, Maria Hartmann’s help.
While winning the Derby Non-Pro with Blu Velvet was “pretty awesome and amazing,” Payne said, James also winning the Derby Open was very special.
“It feels very unreal for us to win the same event together,” Payne said. “It’s a great confirmation to our program.”
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