CR Hes A Tuff One continues to ascend up the reined cow horse ranks with Brendon Clark. • Photo by Primo Morales.

CR Hes A Tuff One and Brendon Clark Sweep NRCHA Western Derby

CR Hes A Tuff One was a horse on a mission during his cow work finals at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

“He literally gave me everything,” trainer Brendon Clark said of the 4-year-old stallion. “Last night he was going to do it with or without me. The first turn he hit the ground and leapt out of there, and almost got me [unseated]. He was going to stay with the cow whether I stayed with him or not.”

The spectacular run was during the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) DT Horses Western Derby Open finals on Saturday, June 11, where Clark and CR Hes A Tuff One posted a finals-topping score of 226 down the fence. 

Combined with their 215.5 out of the herd and 221 reining score, the composite of 662.5 earned Clark his first major open title. To make the victory sweeter, the team swept the Intermediate and Limited divisions too, raking in $66,251 for owner Jill MacLachlan Olerich.

“It’s crazy how it’s turned out,” Clark said. “I’ve never had a horse that can do what he can do. For instance, when he stops on a cow, he can be running as fast as he can go and hit the ground, stop and change directions faster that I’ve ever [experienced].”

The evening was full of firsts for Clark, who had never made an Open finals at a NRCHA premier event. 

“I wasn’t really that nervous [for the finals]. at that point it was just enjoy the ride. At that point if it worked, it worked, and if it didn’t we accomplished something we hadn’t done before. It’s a stepping stone,” Clark said.

The native Australian and former bull rider found success with CR Hes A Tuff One earlier this year at the Paso Robles Spring Classic, where they also won the Open, Intermediate Open and Limited Open.

CR Hes A Tuff One and Brendon Clark, NRCHA Western Derby rein work. • Photo by Primo Morales.

CR Hes A Tuff One is owner Olerich’s only horse, but has already earned her $111,494 with his latest NRCHA Western Derby winnings included. According to Clark, the stallion by Woody Be Tuff and out of Cat Digs Lucinda (by High Brow Cat) is a team player who wants to learn.

“In my mind I felt that he would be good but you just never know. It’s crazy how in all three events he’s at a very, very high level,” Clark said. 

To put an exclamation point on the evening, the Open Reserve Champion was 2021 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion and full brother to CR Hes A Tuff One – Zak 34. Piloted by the newest NRCHA $2 Million Rider Justin Wright, Zak 34 put together a 661 composite (217.5 herd/222.5 rein/221 cow) for $35,000 in winnings for owner Melissa Fischer. 

The two stallions are now Cat Digs Lucinda’s top two money-earning offspring, and their combined earnings at the NRCHA Western Derby pushed her progeny earnings past the $500,000 mark.