Wrapping up a beautiful day in Fort Worth, Texas, the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) named Matt Miller and Uptown Funk (High Brow Cat x Smart Whittle Margie x Smart Whittle Play) the 2023 Great American Insurance Group Summer Cutting Spectacular Open Derby champions July 22 at the Will Rogers Coliseum.
Bred by Blakley Simoneaux and owned by Brengard Cutting Horses, the 4-year-old sorrel mare made a Fort Worth win possible for Miller. Draw 17, out of 20 horses, the team marked a 223.5 in the finals.
“I’ve won at just about every level, but I’ve never had a win in Fort Worth in the open,” Miller said.
“I really had an open mindset today. Everything felt good all day, but I was just like, ‘Hey, whatever happens happens.’ My first cow kind of told me on the cut that she was going to be a lot, but my mare was perfect on her. The other cow that acted good on my cut was going to a good spot. She felt like a really quick cow, and I thought, ‘It’s either make it or break it.’ Luckily, we did. This mare never took a single step out of place.”
Both Matt Miller and Uptown Funk’s determination set them apart from the rest, giving them a lead of two points; but Miller still had a job to do after hugging his family and celebrating the pair’s phenomenal go, which ended up earning them $55,079.
“She’s just a gritty little trying thing. She loves when a cow gets tough with her; and fortunately, that’s what we had today,” Miller explained. “All the guys who have helped me, my team at home, my family and everybody else that’s been there for me are so important. When that score went up, I knew there were only a few left. I was pretty emotional, but I had to help Tarin (Rice) at the end. After his run, I knew he had a great run, but I probably managed to stay on top; so I was pretty emotional after that.”
Taking home $46,497, James Payne and Nice Work Babe (WR This Cats Smart x Just U Babe x Lizzys Gotta Player) won the reserve champion title. The 4-year-old bay mare bred by Wagonhound Land & Livestock is owned by the EquiStat 10-Year Top Cutting Horse Owner Kathleen Moore.