Selvarey and Sarah Dawson showed their stuff in the Tres Osos Cow Horse Derby. • Photo by Primo Morales.

With Selvarey, Sarah Dawson Becomes $1 Million Rider

Returning to the site of their greatest triumph together, Selvarey and Sarah Dawson edged out the competition by a single point to win the Tres Osos Cow Horse Derby Championship in Fort Worth, Texas.

They put together a composite of 664 (216.5 herd/224 rein/223.5 cow) during the finals on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Celebration of Champions. They won $34,000 for owner Sheri Jamieson.

The win itself was a triumph, but Dawson earned a title that was even more special to her Wednesday night – NRCHA Million Dollar Rider. 

“To compare it to things: I would say it’s more special than my Snaffle Bit [Futurity] win [with Selvarey]. That was just one night and the chips fell in the right direction then. But to get the million dollars you have to have years of success on many different types of horses,” she said. “So, for me as a horseman and a trainer, that million dollar [title] is very special to me.” 

At 33, Dawson is one of the youngest riders to become a NRCHA Million Dollar Rider, and joins 21 other million-dollar-riders of the association. Throughout the show, she had been counting down the dollars to the milestone. By her calculations, she had slightly more than $2,000 to earn before the Open Derby fence work. 

The horse that carried her the final leg was the mare she won the 2020 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurit on, Selvarey. Before picking up the reins on the daughter of Dual Rey, Dawson rode the mare’s mother, Shine Smarter (by WR This Cats Smart), to many highlighters earlier in her career as a trainer.

“She’s extremely cowy, but it’s a little tough for me in the herd and the fence work because she is so cowy and she might jump the wrong way and get a little scattered and splattery because she’s so cowy,” Dawson said. “You’re just constantly trying to slow her down.”

With the NRCHA Open Derby winnings, Selvarey’s Lifetime EquiStat record now stand sat more than $185,000. Dawson thanked Selvarey’s owner, Jamieson, for her support over the years.

“We’re so grateful for everything [she’s] done for us and the NRCHA. She’s an outstanding individual,” Dawson said.

The Derby Open Reserve champions were SJR Talkin Diamonds and Corey Cushing. Cushing and the son of Smooth Talkin Style put together a composite of 663 (221 herd/224 rein/218 cow) for a $24,459 check for owner San Juan Ranch. SJR Talkin Diamonds is out of Shiners Diamond Girl (by Shining Spark).