The 2020 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Level 4 Open Championship purse has been increased to a quarter-million dollars. The change to the NRHA Futurity purse money in the Open was one of a trio of increases announced by the association on Friday, Feb. 7.
The decision to increase the purse roughly $100,000 for the Open winner was announced during the Annual General Meeting in Denton, Texas. The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-based association also said it will up the Futurity’s Level 4 Non-Pro championship prize to $60,000 for the first-place winner, and doubled the added money for the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship (NAAC) show.
According to the NRHA, the increased prize money will be provided by a number of people who wanted to boost the industry and pledged their support.
Task Force Meets
Officials said the changes came from a special task force that formed and met during this week’s Annual NRHA Winter Meeting in Denton, Texas, to discuss a pathway to increasing the payout at the NRHA Futurity, beginning with the 2020 event. Chaired by NRHA Vice President Rick Clark, the task force was created to answer a challenge that he, along with NRHA Past President Frank Costantini and former NRHA Board Member Doug Carpenter, had given the board to begin to grow the NRHA Futurity winners’ rewards.
Other members of the task force were John Tague, Nancy Tague, Mike Hancock, Mark Blake, Ginger Schmersal, Rosanne Sternberg and Shane Brown.
NRHA Futurity purse money has seen many significant milestones in the show’s storied past. This included the move to a guaranteed $100,000 prize for the Open Futurity Winner in 1983 and the creation of the nomination program, which now helps fund all levels of the event. Since then, the first-place check for the Level 4 Open Champion had increased to $150,000.
Donors Fund Increase
The increases announced Friday to the NRHA Futurity purse, according to the NRHA, will come from independent funds raised from individuals interested in boosting the industry and shining a brighter light on the NRHA Futurity. Those funds came from five-year support commitments from Tim Anderson and Kim Niven, John Tague, Rick Clark, Bob Santagata, Craig and Ginger Schmersal, Mark Blake, Joao Marcos, and NRHA President Mike Hancock.
The NRHA says the increases are, according to Hancock, a starting place in the goal of establishing the NRHA Futurity and accompanying Adequan® NAAC show as one of the most prestigious events in the horse world. The association noted the announced increases have boosted the NRHA Futurity winner’s payment to exceed those of all other futurities in the Western performance horse industry.
In 2019, National Reined Cow Horse Association Open Champions Here Comes The Boon and Lance Johnston earned a $125,000 check for Rocking BS Ranch. National Cutting Horse Association Open winners Metallic Rey Mink and Gary Bellenfant bagged $175,398 for Los Joboncillos Ranch Inc, of Premont, Texas.
“This was spontaneous combustion in the best way,” NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter said in a statement from the association. “It came together because the right people were in the right place at the right time. So many factors around the world influenced this development. We all recognize that the horses bred for the NRHA Futurity will become the horses of the future for all levels of competition. The increased purse in both the Futurity and the Adequan® NAAC illustrates our commitment to these horses and the people who breed, own, train, and ride them.”
Hancock agrees about the positive ripple effect of this evolution of the sport.
“This year’s quarter of a million is just the first step,” Hancock said. “This committee foresees additional support opportunities becoming available for this endeavor in the future. We don’t know where it is going to end yet, but we are excited for the future.”
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