NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity
Only Debbie Crafton's fantastic fence run kept Axl and Abbie Phillips, above, from sweeping the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro classes. Photo by Lillian Kent

For Rider, Gelding, The Grass Is Green in this Paradise City

If the past few months are any indication, CR Tuff Guns N Roses, aka, “Axl,” loves the stage every bit as much as his hard rock namesake.

For the second time since August, Axl is returning home to Scottsdale, Arizona, a double winner, this time at the $1.2 million National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity ®, presented by Metallic Cat.

The gelding (Woody Be Tuff x Gypsy Rose Rey x Dual Rey) and owner and rider Abbie Phillips had a very good week, walking out of the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, wearing a Reserve Non-Pro Futurity ribbon and titles in the Intermediate and Novice Non-Pro, and three checks totaling $29,390  

That’s getting it done.

The twosome, top performers in herd and rein work, were bumped from the Non-Pro title by a fantastic cow work run of 223 by Dualin Alittle Time and Debbie Crafton, who erased a nine-point deficit to Axl and Phillips entering the final event.

Axl and Phillips finished with a 654.5 composite in the finals — a half-point back of Crafton — including a 221.5 in herd work on Thursday, and a 219.5 and a 213.5 in rein and cow work on Friday. Ten other teams scored better in cow work.

“He boxed really good and made two really good turns, but I got behind a little bit in the circles and couldn’t catch up,” Phillips said of the duo’s cow run. “He tried his heart out, and I was happy with him.”

Axl is one of seven money-earning performers out of his dam, Gypsy Rose Rey. The 2001 daughter of Dual Rey and out of Oaks Mist (by Doc’s Oak) now has an Equi-Stat produce record of more than $106,000. All but one of her money-earning foals are full siblings to CR Tuff Guns N Roses, being by his father, Equi-Stat Elite $4 Million Sire and Center Ranch-bred Woody Be Tuff.

In September, Axl and Phillips conquered Non-Pro and Intermediate Non-Pro classes at the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity. Phillips bought Axl at a 2-year-old cutting futurity sale last year. 

“He’s really athletic and good to get along with. He gave everything he had,” Phillips said while Axl playfully licked her hand in the immediate aftermath. “He was pure and wanted to be the best horse he could be for me.”

Phillips, a native of Terreton, Idaho, a ranching and agricultural community in unincorporated Jefferson County, was quick to say, as riders and trainers are wont to do, that none of this happens without good, loyal help. Corey Cushing, Phillip Ralls and Geoffrey Sheehan were her herd help. Then there’s Mom and Dad, Holly and Dave Burtenshaw.

Oh, and the hubby, of course,  

Phillips will now put on her cheerleader cap.

Husband Kelby Phillips has three horses going in the Futurity Open finals, one of which, Nineteen Ten, leads going into Saturday’s rein and cow work sessions. Nineteen Ten, son of Hickory Holly Time and out of Lil Miss Shiney Chex (x Shining Spark), posted a 224 in herd work, tops among his 24 other peers.

This is the type of stuff that makes a very happy horse couple, who will be even happier if Kelby is fortunate enough to win the $125,000 top prize.

This good-looking couple have been married for six years after meeting in Idaho through Zane Davis, who is married to Abbie Phillips’ cousin.

Some of Kelby Phillips’ best moments were aboard Nineteen Ten’s father, Hickory Holly Time. The two won Intermediate Open at the Snaffle Bit in 2012, and Phillips’ 2018 World’s Greatest Horseman was while astride Hickory Holly Time

In 2016, Phillips won the Snaffle Bit Futurity® during its final run in Reno with Duals Lucky Charm.

“There’s a lot of horse show left,” said Kelby Phillips, whose other horses, SarahTrashya (Gunnatrashya x Flo N Blu Boon x Pretty Boy Boon) and CR Dees Be Tuff, another of Woody Be Tuff’s sons (out of CR Dees Boon Meow), enter in a crowded middle of the pack. “I felt all three horses were good [Thursday]. Lots of [other] good horses in the finals.”

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