It was a grand finale on Saturday, June 16, for NRCHA Derby competitors and owners. Champions were crowned in three Open and three Non Pro limited aged event divisions.
The NRCHA Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby is one of the richest and most prestigious events for 4- and 5-year-old reined cow horses. Exhibitors show two-handed in a snaffle bit or a hackamore in three events: herd work, rein work and fence. Payouts at the 2018 NRCHA Derby exceeded more than $300,000 and included a plethora of prizes.
Open Finals day was a feeling of déjà vu for Justin Wright, Santa Maria, California. In 2017, Justin piloted three horses to Open Finals and captured the 2017 NRCHA Derby Open Championship. For the second consecutive year, Wright secured three spots in the Open Finals and came out on top. Shiners Diamond Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Shiners Diamond Lady x Shining Spark), a 2014 mare owner by Mike and James Draper, and Wright marked a 225 in the herd work, a 221.5 in the rein work and a 225.5 down the fence. Their composite score of 672 earned them a paycheck of $30,989.19, a Bob’s Custom Saddle, a Gist buckle, boots from Lucchese and product from Platinum Performance. Wright, eager to praise Shiners Diamond Cat said, “That’s what means the most to me about this show, is having her win it. It is all about her. She supposed to win those and I’m basically along for the ride.” Mike and James bought the 2014 mare from Roger and Cynthia Bias as a 3-year-old. The Drapers owned horses in the past, but they never made it to the show pen. “They are the greatest owners that you could ever ask for,” Wright said. “They are the nicest people.”
The Derby Open Reserve Championship went to a familiar face in the winner’s circle, Clayton Edsall and Bet He Sparks (Metallic Cat x Sparking Train x Shining Spark), owned by K & L Phillips LLC. The pair’s 670 composite score (219 herd/223rein/228cow) not only earned a $22,834.14 paycheck in the Open, but it also secured the Derby Intermediate Open Championship and a payout of $9,468.84.
“We needed a lot of cow and that’s what we got,” Edsall said. “I put a lot of trust in him. The horse is pretty special because I bought and started him. Then, I sold him to a great customer and friend and got to keep him.” To say Clayton Edsall, Oakdale, California, is a fierce competitor with stellar horsepower underneath of him would be an understatement. The California horseman piloted six horses to the Intermediate Open Finals and five horses to the Open Finals, collecting winnings that exceeded $92,000. Edsall also finished second place aboard Metallic Train (Metallic Cat x Sparking Train x Shining Spark), owned by Beverly Vaughn, with a total score of 670 and third place on Shining CD Light, with a composite score of 661.5, for owners Russell and Tiann Keegan.
Limited Open Champion
Making the drive from Calhan, Colorado to Paso Robles, California was well worth it to the newly crowned NRCHA Derby Limited Open Champion Dave Dillman. The NRCHA Professional piloted his own horse, Playing With Rey (Play Dual Rey x Arc Holly Cee Lena x Smart Little Lena), to a combined score of 645.5. Dillman and his 2013 mare earned a 214 in the herd work, 215 in the rein work and 216.5 down the fence, taking a permanent lead in the Limited Open Finals and winning a paycheck of more than $4,000. “She’s been a great mare for me. She is super consistent and easy to train and good to show,” Dillman said. “She is super cow smart.”
Level One Limited Open Champion
Adding to their list of accolades, Sheza Crackin Me Up (Nabisco Roan x Sheza Shinette x Shining Spark) and Chance Harman, Perrin Texas, were crowned 2018 2018 NRCHA Derby Level One Limited Champions. Harman showed the 2013 mare, owned by Holy Cow Performance, Texas, to a composite score of 638.5 (212 herd/209.5 rein/217 cow). The win earned the team a payout of $2,700, plus $1,223.37 paycheck for their 5th place finish in the Limited Open Finals. Harman enjoys showing the 5-year-old Nabisco Roan mare. “She’s really good in the herd. She’s really good down the fence,” he said. “She was awesome on that second turn. She circled really good, came off the fence to hustle up there.” Harman began his reined cow horse career in Canada, riding with NRCHA Professional John Swales. Harman is now the assistant trainer to NRCHA Professionals Chris and Sarah Dawson, Perin, Texas. Harman has worked for the couple for over two years now and thoroughly enjoys and appreciates his position at Dawson Performance Horses.
Open Novice Horse Champion
Sunsets (One Time Pepto x Starlights Liz x Grays Starlight), owned by Rocking J Ranch and shown by NRCHA Professional Doug Williamson, Bakersfield, California, scored a 647 composite (216 herd/ 213.5 rein/217.5 fence), winning nearly $2,800. This score also earned the timeless horseman and 2013 stallion a place in the Intermediate Open Finals. Being the offspring of a dam that has produced more than one-half million dollars in earners, Susnets’ future is bright in Williamson’s training program. The NRCHA Hall of Fame member takes pride in the longevity of his horse’s show career. “He’s a huge stopper and really cow smart,” Williamson said. “He is a really good horse. I’m excited about him. I’ve started roping off of him and he might become a World’s Greatest horse.”
Non Pro & Intermediate Non Pro Champion
Frequent fliers of Non Pro Finals, Bart Holowath and Smart Lookin Nurse (WR This Cats Smart x NurseWare x Dual Rey), captured two titles; Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro Derby Championships, with an overall score of 653.5 (219 herd/215.5 rein/219 cow). Holowath and his 2013 gelding “Finn” have been partners since the horse’s 3-year-old year. “This horse is a great horse. He knows his maneuvers. He knows what to do”, Holowath said. “I just have to keep up with him.” “When you have a horse as good as that one, you go down the road because you may not ever get another one,” said Holowath. Over the years, the NRCHA Derby has been good to the Holowaths. Bart and his wife Terri enjoy their time in Paso Robles, California, making it their yearly vacation from Cayley, Alberta. With dual wins, comes dual prizes, including a Bob’s Custom Saddle, two Gist buckles and product from Lucchese, Shorty’s Caboy Hattery and Platinum Performance, along with a win check totaling more than $11,000.
Novice Non Pro Champion
It was the opportunity to go down the fence one more time, that led LaDona Emmons, Iona, California, and Hey Nicci (Nic It In The Bud x Sugartime 691 x Docs Hickory) to the 2018 NRCHA Derby Novice Non Pro Championship title and a payday or more than $1,500. The pair marked a 213 in the herd work, a 215.5 in the rein work and a big 220.5 down the fence for a composite of 649, sealing the win. Emmons and “ Nicci” topped the preliminary chart of the Non Pro divisions after two preliminary events, but they ran into some tough luck down the fence, leaving her to wonder if she was tough enough for this sport. “When I got back in the Novice Finals, it made me happy that I could at least try and go down the fence one more time. Today it felt really good. We got it set up right and for me it was really good,” Emmons said. LaDona’s husband, NRCHA Professional Ron Emmons, advanced to the Derby Intermediate Open Finals, making the day even more special for the couple. Emmons thanked her husband Ron for all his help and for always supporting her. She was also thankful for all of her friends at the show that continue to encourage her throughout her journey.
The Derby Amateur Champion was Chandler Daddino, who rode Mister PBR (Mister Smart Remedy x Shes A Daisy x Smart Little Pepinic) to a 628 composite (201 herd/211 rein/216 fence). The Amateur win paid $1,900, and Daddino also earned a spot in the Novice Non Pro Finals. Daddino is all smiles when it comes to her 5-year-old gelding. “Fence work is my favorite. He makes it easy and he makes it fun. He takes good care of me,” Daddino said beaming with pride. Daddino is looking forward to next step of taking Mister PBR, and his big personality, into the two rein and bridle. The Amateur Championship was accompanied by a $1,900 paycheck, Gist buckle, Platinum Performance, headstall by DM Tack and a Shorty’s Caboy straw hat.
Non Pro Limited Champion
After falling just short of NRCHA premier event wins over the past year, Garrell Williams and Sparks On The Fence (Smart Boons x Spark Chic Olena x Smart Chic Olena), took home the title of 2018 NRCHA Derby Non Pro Limited Champions. The pair managed to stay in the top five through all three events, winning the herd work with a 213.5, marking a 212.5 in rein work and sealing the deal with a 218.5 in the cow work. With an overall composite of 644, Williams took back to Scottsdale, Arizona, a Gist buckle, DM Tack headstall, Platinum Performance product, straw hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery and a $2,600 paycheck. When Williams purchased the 2012 mare from fellow non pro competitor Clark Weaver, she transitioned into a new barn. “Carlee” was in training with NRCHA Professional Brad Barkemeyer at the time of purchase. Williams’ decision to join the new training program has been nothing but a positive experience. ” It’s about horsemanship. They put the horse first and the rider first. It’s a great program,” she said. Teary-eyed, Williams was quick to express her favorite part about the mare. “She loves me back and I love that about her. Being in her stall with her. Being a on a trail ride with her. I just love being with her.”