In a year where a number cutters had massive leads in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Championship standings before the 7 Ranch NCHA World Finals, the $35,000 Non-Pro was a lot closer than most.
Gavin Clarke had the lead going in, but needed a solid showing to maintain the top spot. The 17-year-old cutter from Jackson, California, did that and more, winning the most money of anybody in his class to take the World Finals Show Championship and cement his NCHA World title by winning the most money in his division during the entire year.
“All year long me and [fellow cutter James Figel] kind of battled back and forth, you know; his horse is really excellent just like mine and just depending on the show that we would go to it was either him or I winning,” he said. “So, it was just kind of back and forth all year long and it was really exciting to be a part of.
The win was the second NCHA World Finals $35,000 Non-Pro World Finals Show Championship for Rubys CD Legacy. In 2017, the Philip and Lea Hanson-bred mare won the title with Emily Meyer.
Meyer’s husband, Dylan, is Clarke’s trainer. Clarke knew how much the mare meant to the couple, so he was floored when they suggested he buy the 2009 daughter of CD Lights.
“We went to dinner and they were just talking to me and I had explained to them that I really wanted to haul,” he recalled. “And they were like, ‘Well, what if you buy Ruby?’ And I’m like, you know, I would love Ruby but she’s not for sale. And they’re like, ‘Well, you’re gonna buy Ruby.’”
Clarke, a high school senior, told the story while walking a sweaty “Ruby” back to her stall after winning the second round of the World Finals. He spoke in a tone of voice that made it seem as if he still couldn’t believe he owned such a mare.
“I was just so shocked and it’s like been the most emotional experience, because I love Emily and Dylan to death and they have done absolutely everything for me,” he said. “So, it’s just an awesome experience.
The show also was Ruby’s last. The plan is for her to get turned out and become a broodmare.
“My mindset coming into the World Finals was really just have fun and enjoy the experience and make it memorable for myself, because Ruby is a once-in-a-lifetime horse and I may never get to ride [another] animal as valuable as her,” he said.
Rubys CD Legacy has lifetime earnings of more than $40,000. She is one of five money earners out of the mare Smart Little Ruby (by Smart Little Lena).
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