The National Reining Breeders Classic Non Pro Finals on Friday, April 20, were arguably the best in the event’s 15-year history. No wonder – the 182 entries broke the record for the largest Non Pro ever. The average of all the scored runs in the finals was an astounding 218.5!
Four-time NRBC Non Pro Champion Mandy McCutcheon, of Aubrey, Texas, added both the Championship and Reserve Championship to her list of career accomplishments.
She competed first as draw eight on Shiney Enterprise. When NRBC Announcer Jayson Jackson announced the score of 227.5, the crowd inside the Great Southwest Equestrian Center went wild – sure that the Championship run had just been made.
But McCutcheon had another bullet in her gun – a 5-year-old mare named Always Gotyer Gunsup. McCutcheon and Always Gotyer Gunsup executed the first sliding stop to perfection, and held that standard throughout the run. The judges rewarded the pair a 231 and solidified McCutcheon’s fifth NRBC title.
“When I’m competing, I try to take the run apart. I do one maneuver at a time and then I forget about it. I know when I’ve made a mistake, but my mind is always on the next part.” McCutcheon added, “I knew this mare was good and was really happy with her. You never know quite how big the score will be – so I was really excited.”
The win netted a check for $40,948, as well as a saddle from Pard’s Western Shop, a Gist Silversmiths buckle, a pair of Rios of Mercedes boots, a Catena Watch from Catena USA, a custom embroidered jacket from Just Stitch It, product from M3 Products, Santa Cruz Animal Health, SmartPak Smart Omega 3, as well as the signature blue crystal trophy and other NRBC memorabilia.
Always Gotyer Gunsup, owned by McCutcheon’s parents, Tim and Colleen McQuay, is a 5-year-old mare by Gunner out of Always A Dun It. With McCutcheon at the reins, the mare won the Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity and the Ariat Tulsa Reining Futurity, and finished third in the Non Pro at last year’s NRBC. “She’s a great mare for me. I thank Marco Ricotta for helping me with her,” she said. “I also thank my mom and dad – they have provided several great horses for me to ride.”
McCutcheon’s reserve champion entry, Shiney Enterprise, is also owned by the McQuays. The 4-year-old mare is by Smart And Shiney out of My Royal Enterprise. The Reserve Championship was worth $23,708, and came with a Gist Silversmiths buckle, product from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies and SmartPak, as well as other NRBC memorabilia.
When talking about her two finalists, McCutcheon, of Aubrey, Texas, said “I was really proud of both of them. From the time I ran through the gate they put their heads down and went to work.”
NRBC Intermediate Non Pro
Francesca Sternberg will return to England as the National Reining Breeders Classic Intermediate Non Pro Champion. In the finals on Friday, April 20, she rode her horse Smart Like Valentino, by Smart Like Juice out of Smart Little Jewel, to a 223.5, claiming the title and $13,106.
Sternberg and the 5-year-old gelding had also qualified for the Non Pro finals, and finished in fifth place, worth an additional $13,547. She also collected a saddle sponsored by Kyle Tack, a Gist Silversmiths buckle, Rios of Mercedes boots, a Catena watch from Catena USA, as well as product from M3 Products, InfoMedia Video, and Santa Cruz Biotechnologies.
Sternberg was quick to credit her friends and family with the win. “I told them that success is where preparation meets opportunity. I had the opportunity, and they did all the preparation,” she joked following the awards ceremony. “Steffano Massignan got this horse ready for me, my sister gave me a wonderful opportunity, and the Sterling Ranch crew here was unbelievable.”
She added, “You can’t do this on your own. You have to have the right team behind you and horse under you – and both are hard to find.”
With a score of 222, Javier Melo and his horse Imasugared Pepto tied Ruben Pacheco Cuevas and his horse Sugar Chics Gunnit for the Reserve title. Each received a check for $6,980 and a Gist Silversmiths buckle.
Imasugaredpepto is a 5-year-old gelding by Imasmartpepto out of Sugarmans Belle, while Sugar Chics Gunnit is a 6-year-old stallion by Gunner out of Sugar Chics Dunnit.
NRBC Limited and Level 1 Non Pro
It’s been seven years since Harper Conner has shown at the National Reining Breeders Classic, but he made his return in spectacular fashion, winning both the Limited Non Pro and Non Pro Level 1.
“It was time. I had three back operations and was out of the business, but I got healed up and this was my first hoorah back,” he explained. “I thank my wife Petra, Gabe Hutchins, and my family.”
Conner was riding his homebred mare Sparkling Bells, by A Sparkling Vintage out of Cowboys Belle Bar. Their score of 220 resulted not only in the two Championships, but also a sixth place finish in the Intermediate Non Pro and a sixteenth place finish in the Non Pro. All total, the pair won $13,091, a saddle from Continental Saddlery and a saddle sponsored by Jim Taylor Saddlery, two Gist Silversmiths buckles, product from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies, InfoMedia Video, the signature crystal trophies, and other NRBC memorabilia.
National Reined Cow Horse Association Million Dollar Rider Anne Reynolds made her NRBC debut with a finals berth in all five Non Pro divisions. With a score of 218 on her horse Shiney And Verysmart, by Very Smart Remedy out of Shirley Shine, Reynolds finished as the Reserve Champion for both the Limited and Level 1 Non Pro division. Reynolds and Shiney And Verysmart, on whom she won the 2009 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, took home $10,109 and two Gist Silversmiths buckles.
NRBC Non Pro Prime Time
With a score of 222.5, former National Reining Breeders Classic Champion Jose Vazquez claimed the Non Pro Prime Time Championship.
Vazquez and his 5-year-old homebred stallion, Moonshine Juice, won $1,725, a saddle from the NRBC, a Gist Silversmiths buckle, product from InfoMedia Video and Santa Cruz Animal Health, and the signature NRBC crystal. The pair also qualified for the Non Pro finals, finishing in a seventh-place tie, worth an additional $9,314.
Moonshine Juice is by Vazquez’s stallion Smart Like Juice, and out of the Blue Hen mare Wind Her Up Shiner. Moonshine Juice is actually a full sibling to his 2009 NRBC champion Wound By Juice. “My horse this year comes from a good family, and he is probably one of the most fun ponies to ride. I wish I could have marked higher, but he was good.” He added, “I have one more year to show him here and I plan to come back even better.”
“This show is great. The payouts are obviously very good, but the thing is that you can come here and find out what you need to do to be competitive. You see the greatest horses in the world here every year – and this year was exceptional,” Vazquez, of Markham, Illinois, said.
Lance Griffin took Non Pro Prime Time reserve honors and $1,050 with a 221.5 on his horse Kachina Tag Olena. Kachina Tag Olena is a 5-year-old stallion by Griffin’s stallion Whiz N Tag Chex out of Kachina Oak Olena. Griffin also tied for eleventh in the Non Pro, collecting an additional $4,657.
The National Reining Breeders Classic is the most successful stallion incentive program in reining history. In just fourteen years, the NRBC has grown to include nearly 200 subscribed stallions. Annually, the payout at the National Reining Breeders Classic exceeds $1.4 million. For information on the NRBC, visit the web site at www.nrbc.com or call 580-759-3939.