Team Imperial Purple * Photo Provided by Teton Ridge

Team Imperial Purple: Who Will They Ride for The American Performance Horseman 2024?

This year Team Imperial Purple, jokingly dubbed the “Triple J’s,” will consist of EquiStat Elite $5 Million Rider James Payne, EquiStat Elite $3 Million Rider Jason Vanlandingham and EquiStat Elite $2 Million Rider Justin Wright. Their secret weapon, none other than the all-time highest earning reined cow horse.

Teton Ridge announced the teams that riders would compete on for The American Performance Horseman 2024. Each rider qualified by being a top earner in their respective discipline in 2023. Five riders from the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), and the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) were split onto teams of three with one rider from each discipline.

Per show rules, the qualified riders can take any horse they would like with the exception of NRCHA riders who can take any bridle horse. On March 1, riders on Team Imperial Purple will officially choose their horses but Quarter Horse News sat down with the riders ahead of time to see which horses they were considering taking.

Horse earnings below are provided by EquiStat statistical service.

James Payne

Overbrook, Oklahoma

Summer Time Fun

Pedigree: 15M (Metallic Cat x Hey Georgy Girl x Wild Thing DNA)
Earnings: $418,002
Career Highlights: Won NCHA Summer Spectacular 4-Year-Old Open
Payne: “The day I won the [NCHA Summer Spectacular] Derby on her, because they had the Metallic Cat Incentive, I won the Derby and I won that. The Metallic Cat [incentive] paid $100,000 and I think I won like $130,000 at that show, and that was the most I’d ever won before.”
Fast Fact: Talk about bonus money! In addition to winning $100,000 in incentive money as a 4-year-old, Summer Time Fun won another $20,000 from the same incentive, offered by Metallic Cat’s owner the Rocking P Ranch, as a 5-year-old and another $10,000 as a 6-year-old.

Jason Vanlandingham

Whitesboro, Texas


Pedigree: 17S (Gunnatrashya x Big Time Jazzy x Shine Big Time)
Earnings: $303,938
Career Highlights: 2020 NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity Reserve Champion, 2023 NRHA Level 4 Open Derby Reserve Champion, 2023 The Run For A Million Reining Open Shootout Reserve Champion
Fast Fact: “This horse has been second like every time he has shown at a major event. Even before I had the horse, when Brian Bell had him, he was second at the NRHA Futurity.”
Vanlandingham: “Outside of the competition itself, I’m looking forward to getting to spend time with guys in the other disciplines.”

Justin Wright

Santa Maria, California

Scooter Kat

Pedigree: 15S (Kit Kat Sugar x Scooters Daisy Dukes x Dual Smart Rey)
Earnings: $513,556
Career Highlights: 2023 The Run For A Million Cow Horse Challenge Champion, 2023 NRCHA Stallion Stakes Open Bridle Champion, 2023 The American Performance Horseman Reined Cow Horse Reserve Champion, 2022 NRCHA Open Bridle National Reserve Champion
Is there anything you’re looking forward to going into this experience with Team Imperial Purple?: “Just being able to go and enjoy the whole experience and, take it all in and not be as starstruck walking down into that huge arena.”