Cliffhanger, thriller, close call, photo finish – any number of suspenseful adjectives could accurately describe the road to the Derby Non Pro Limited Championship for Anne Albert of Roy, Washington. It involved a tie, followed by another tie, the possibility of a co-Championship, and finally, a cow work-off to decide the title once and for all.
“I’ve always wanted to come to this horse show, and to come here the first time and win it – I’m ecstatic,” Albert said.
After the first two events, the rein work and herd work, Albert and her gelding, White Knight Time (One Time Pepto x Little Lady Stylish x Smart Little Uno), were tied for first place with Erin Mendes and Recklessly Abandoned (Smart Little Pepinic x Wright Now Ima Star x Lenas Wright On). Both riders had 424.5 composite scores. A third rider, Linda Wood, was just a half-point behind them heading into the third phase, the cow work.
“I thought that was so fun, to be going into the boxing with the top three so close. You want everybody to win. I want her to win, and her to win… but darn it, I want to win too! I would have been just as happy for one of the others if they had been the one to win,” Albert said. “It could have been anybody’s win. Those girls were so game-ready! It was fun.”
But as it turned out, one round of boxing wasn’t enough to break the tie: both Albert and Mendes guided their horses to identical 217.5 cow work scores, which left them with a matching 642 on three events. First-place ties are broken by the cow work score, but because those were also the same, there was talk of a co-Championship. Ultimately, it came down to a work-off. Mendes boxed her second cow for a big score of 218, while Albert scored a bigger 222 for the win.
Albert took home a check for $1,592, along with a Gist buckle and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance. It was the second consecutive NRCHA Premier Event title for Albert; she and “Rudy” had claimed the Non Pro Limited Stallion Stakes Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the end of March.
“He’s an easy, super fun horse to show,” she said, describing the gelding she purchased sight-unseen from the National Cutting Horse Association 2-year-old sale in Fort Worth, Texas. “I think every non pro should have a horse like him. He’s so polite and so funny. He’s like a gentleman with a real wicked sense of humor. You can always count on him to open a door or pull out your chair. Mister polite, but funnier than heck.”
Albert thanked her previous trainer, Dean McCann, Graham, Washington, who she credits with teaching Rudy plus-quality reining maneuvers. She now spends “every weekend I can – about three weekends a month,” riding with her current trainer, Cayley Wilson, at his facility in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.
“Cayley and his wife, Katie, are really nice. I’ll go up and stay overnight and hang out for the weekend. They’re so kind. They are the nicest people. Katie’s so helpful and supportive, and Cayley is so positive – always with a smile,” she said.