Team Royal Blue * Photo provided by Teton Ridge

Team Royal Blue: Who Will They Ride for The American Performance Horseman 2024?

This year Team Royal Blue, will consist of EquiStat Elite $6 Million Rider Adan Banuelos, EquiStat Elite $4 Million Rider Casey Deary and EquiStat Elite $1 Million Rider Clayton Edsall. Last year Team Royal Blue won, then it consisted of Banuelos, Fernando Salgado and Sarah Dawson.

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 Royal Blue 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.

Adan Banuelos

Granbury, Texas


Pedigree: 19S (Smooth Talkin Style x Show Biz Kitty x High Brow Cat)
Earnings:  $181,256

Career Highlights:  Won The Ike Derby 4-Year-Old Rollback and tied for third in the NCHA Super Stakes Derby Open. He also has been a finalist at many of cutting’s top aged events.
Fast Fact: Storyteler is a maternal half-brother to NCHA Futurity Open Champion All Spice and NCHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion Badboonarising. Another half-sibling — NCHA Open Horse of the Year Kittennish — is one of the horses trainer Austin Shepard is considering riding at The American Performance Horseman. All are out of EquiStat Elite $2 Million Dam Show Biz Kitty.

Casey Deary

Weatherford, Texas

Down Right Amazing

Pedigree: 17S (Colonels Smoking Gun “Gunner” X Shesouttayourleague x Walla Walla Whiz)
Earnings: $607,867
Career Highlights: 2023 NRHA Level 4 Open Derby Champion, 2023 The American Performance Horseman Individual Reining Champion, 2023 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Level 4 Open Derby Champion
Fast Fact: “[Down Right Amazing] was the first horse that I got on in my neck brace. I broke my neck on Friday, and on Monday I got on him to see if I could show at the [NRHA] Futurity.”


Customize My Dream

Pedigree: 19S (Magnum Chic Dream X Gunna Be Custom x Colonels Smoking Gun “Gunner”)
Earnings: $225,007
Career Highlights: 2022 NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity Reserve Champion, Third in the 100X Reining Classic Level 4 Open Stakes, Sixth in the 2023 The Run For A Million Open Shootout
Deary: “I would have to say the most memorable part for me [at the 2023 TAPH] was riding into the field that first morning, when it was completely quiet” Deary recalled. “It was all set up, but there wasn’t a sound, and to walk around in that arena was a pretty cool feeling.”

Clayton Edsall

Mineral Wells, Texas

Bet He Sparks

Pedigree: 14S (Bet Hesa Cat x Sparking Train x Shining Spark)
Career Highlights: 2018 NRCHA Western Derby Open Reserve Champion, 2019 NRCHA Western Derby Open Champion, Fourth at the 2023 The Run For A Million Cow Horse Challenge
Edsall: “Before I left California, I had a neighbor of mine that needed help. He calls me one day and he said, ‘I got some big bull calves. I got a couple that are sick and I got a couple I need to cut.’ They’re out on, about 5000 acres. And so I had Sparky and I said yeah, I’ll come help you. And so I took him up there and Joe raises a lot of rope horses, head horses. And the first one (bull) we found, lined out and I necked him and he weighed about 600 pounds and Sparky, slid through the grass and he (Joe) roped him and I tied off and doctored him and Joe goes, ‘I’m gonna breed a mare to that horse.’ So that was kind of cool I thought.”

A Starlights Magnum

Pedigree: 13M (Magnum With A Dream, x Shiny Starlight x Grays Starlight)
Career Highlights: 2024 NRCHA World Champion Open Two-Rein, 2024 NRCHA Reserve World Champion Intermediate Open Bridle
Fun Fact: Most of A Starlights Magnum’s money-earning siblings have been reiners, although one — Whizkey N Starlight (by Whizkey N Diamonds) — is a successful, money-winning roping horse.