The $15,000 Amateur National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Finals and the World Championship race went down to the wire. In the end it was a pair of “Benjamins” — Benjamin James and Raven Benjamin — who proved victorious during the 7 Ranch NCHA World Finals in Fort Worth..
The top contenders in the World race entered the show, held Nov. 29 to Dec. 7 in conjunction with the NCHA Futurity, with total season earnings separated by less than $300. The $15,000 Amateur World Finals Show Championship, which goes to the horse and rider who earn the most money during the show, was decided by less than $200.
When the dust cleared, Benjamin James and Lightsaber Dual were the World Finals Show Champions with $2,444 earned during the show. Colorado cutter Raven Benjamin ended the year as the World Champion, having won the most money throughout the course of the entire year.
Even after the awards ceremony in the W.R. Watt Arena, the reality of winning a World Finals Show title didn’t seem to have sunk in for James, 17.
“My biggest goal was just to make it to the world finals. I had no clue that I was going to be show champion,” he said. “It’s just icing on the cake.”
The sweet taste of victory was made possible by the partnership between James and Lightsaber Dual. However, it wasn’t necessarily supposed to happen. The horse belongs to his dad, Trew James, and was supposed to be Trew’s show horse — not his son’s.
When he started showing he wanted a horse to show and he got that one and I kind of took it over from him,” James explained.
In the son’s mind, it all worked out. James wanted to haul for the World, and his dad got busy and didn’t much time to show his new horse.
“He let me borrow [Lightsaber Dual] and I’ve been showing him ever since and been doing pretty good on him,” he said.
The $15,000 Amateur World Champion – the rider who won the most money during the entire year – was Raven Benjamin, of Hartsel, Colorado. In what was one of the tightest races of the show, Benjamin entered the competition leading her next-closest competitor by only $263.49. However, she and Metallic Sweetgirl RG (Metallic Cat x Sweets Smart Girl x Smart Little Lena) put down solid performances and, by the end of the show, stretched her lead to $639.49.
In addition, Benjamin was named the NCHA Weekend Rookie of the Year. She received her trophy at the new Celebration of the Weekend Cutter party held Saturday night (Dec. 7) at the end of the World Finals.
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