Futurity Open Champion Jake Telford and Starlight Kisses. Primo Morales photo
NRCHA Million Dollar Rider Jake Telford wins his first Snaffle Bit Futurity Championship aboard Starlight Kisses, earning $100,000 for breeder/owner Holy Cow Performance Horses. See the highlights in our final edition of the Reno Wrap Up!
Open Futurity Champion
It was an intense night during the Futurity Open finals where 25 horse-and-rider teams were down in the dirt vying to earn the prestigious Futurity Open Championship. Ride after ride, competitors brought the heat. However, it was Jake Telford and Starlight Kisses who took home top honors.
“I can’t even describe it. It’s just amazing,” Telford said of the win. “It’s been something that I’ve wanted for such a long time. It’s almost unreal for it to finally come true.”
Telford and Starlight Kisses (Shady Lil Starlight x Kiss My Shiny Lips x Shining Spark) scored a 216 in the herd work, 218.5 in the rein work and a 221.5 in the cow work giving the duo a composite 656, which was just a half-point above fellow competitor and Reserve Champion Erin Taormino and Plain Wright (Hes Wright On x Isabellena x Quejanaisalena).
“In the herd work, she was really on it this morning. I kind of cut her a bad cow on my second cow and it took away from the run and I only marked a 16,” Telford explained. “The rein work was especially stressful for me because it’s more rider participation and I really did not want to screw up. Going into the fence work I was hoping that I had enough cow to show off what she could do. After I made my run, I was a little worried that it wasn’t enough cow but she’s so stylish doing it that they marked me enough. It worked out!”
The long wait after their cow work performance was nerve-racking for Telford, but it was worth it when he and Starlight Kisses came out on top and garnered a $100,000 paycheck for owner Holy Cow Performance Horses. They also received prizes that include a Bob’s Custom Saddle sponsored by Matthews Cutting Horses, CR Morrison Bronze from the NRCHA, Gist Buckle sponsored by Edsall Performance Horses and Kathryn Phillips, Cooler Bag with Grooming Supplies and a $50 Gift Card from Santa Cruz Animal Health/San Juan Ranch, Custom Designed Cowboy Boots from Rios of Mercedes, 100X and 30X Hat from JW Brooks Custom Hats, Classic Equine Polar Fleece Cooler, Monogrammed Cinch Jacket from the NRCHA, product from Platinum Performance, and a $500 Gift Certificate for a CR Ranch Wear Shirt.
“I just couldn’t do [this] without my owners,” Telford said. “Nancy [Crawford-Hall, owner of Holy Cow Performance Horse] has been so good to me. She sent me horses that were way better than I ever was and it taught me so much and it’s because of her that I advanced like I did. And my wife, she supports me so much. My family is so good to me. Its so much work and so hard, no one can do it without a great support system. It’s just impossible.”
Taormino and Plain Wright scored a 213.5 in the herd work, 214 in the rein work and a whopping 228 in the cow work giving them a 655.5 composite for the Reserve title. The duo garnered an $80,000 paycheck for owners Garth and Amanda Gardiner.
“It’s been surreal,” an emotional Taormino said, after receiving her awards. “It’s been a long two weeks. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but it’s all worth it. I showed his full brother here last year and made the Open and Intermediate finals and won the Level 1. We brought this one this year and he’s been good. He’s got so much heart and try. He’s made so many runs here in this arena. He’s been in here nine times showing and he never quits. I just love him.”
The duo also received many prizes, including as a Bob’s Custom Saddle from the NRCHA, a Gist Buckle sponsored by Ruby View Quarter Horses, 30X Hat from JW Brooks Custom Hats, Monogrammed Cinch Jacket from the NRCHA, $300 in Farnam Products, product from Platinum Performance, Cooler Bag with Grooming Supplies and a $50 Gift Card from Santa Cruz Animal Health/San Juan Ranch, and a $500 Gift Certificate for a CR Ranch Wear Shirt.
Todd Bergen Becomes NRCHA $2 Million Rider
Eagle Point, Oregon, professional Todd Bergen piloted two horses to five-figure paychecks in the Snaffle Bit Futurity Open finals. While he didn’t achieve the Open Championship he was striving for, he wrote his name in the NRCHA history books as only the second rider to break the $2 million earnings mark. The only other horseman to claim that distinction is Blanchard, Oklahoma, professional Todd Crawford.
“When I started into this, just like anybody, I didn’t know much, and I just wanted to become a good trainer. That’s all I strived to do, is train my horses the best I can. To be somebody in this industry that could be only the second person to achieve that [$2 million rider] status – it means a lot,” he said.