The NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Champion will earn a check of $250,000 this year. Last year, champions Cade McCutcheon and Super Marioo won $150,000 for their effort. * Photo by Waltenberry

With $250,000 First-Place Check, NRHA Futurity Launches New Chapter

When the 55th National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity kicks off later this month, it will launch a new chapter with the largest champion’s check in the show’s history. 

In February, the NRHA announced that the 2020 NRHA Futurity champion will receive a check of $250,000 – which is a $100,000 increase from the previous year.

The news came during the association’s Annual General Meeting and was accompanied by the additional announcement that the Cinch Non Pro Futurity Champion would receive $60,000 and that the added money for the Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship classes would be doubled.

Future Purse Plan

 As the NRHA Futurity approaches, the task force created to increase the futurity payout continues to plan ahead. Under the leadership of NRHA Vice President Rick Clark, the task force, which also includes NRHA President Mike Hancock, John Tague, Mark Blake, Doug Carpenter, Ginger Schmersal, Roseanne Sternberg and Shane Brown, is looking forward to even more growth in the next five years.

 “This is the beginning,” Clark said in a statement issued by the NRHA. “We want to grow to awarding a half-million dollars to the open champion in the next five years and this will come from a combination of resources.”

Tague said the growth will initially come from supporters until a more permanent and stable funding plan is in place. 

“There are many ways to build structural support for the purse. The most positive of all would be entry growth as a result of bigger purses,” Tague said. “The work the association has done to become more efficient, along with the insights of its Board and the Executive Committee could well position the NRHA to be able to increase the added money in the years ahead.”

Other Purse Increases

While the highlighted goal of the committee is the $500,000 Level 4 Open purse, its members also want to impact other open levels and the Non-Pro divisions as well as funding additional improvements to the NAAC. In the coming weeks, members will reach out to other industry stakeholders, owners and trainers to join the effort.

COVID’s Impact

Though excited about the purse increases, officials said they were saddened to report 20 international entries due to riders or horses were forced from the competition because they were not able to enter the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

 “Our hearts are with our international members who have devoted the last two years to preparing horses for this event,” NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter said. “We share their disappointment in having their dreams delayed.”

The NRHA Futurity, although closed to the general public, is open to all horse people, who may enter through the barn areas to attend performances, the Futurity Trade Show held during the entire show and the NRHA Futurity Horse Sales, set for Thursday, Dec. 3. The event will follow whatever health mandates are in place for Oklahoma City at the time of the show, currently including masks being required and restrictions pertaining to social distancing.