The 2011 National Reined Cow Horse Association Celebration of Champions, held at the 1st Community Credit Union Spur Arena in San Angelo, Texas, began Saturday, January 29. The Celebration of Champions is one of the NRCHA's premier events - and there are actually three different competitions held during the nine days of competition. Along with the Circle Y Ranch Derby, the Celebration of Champions also plays host to the NRCHA World Championship Show presented by John Deere, and the NRCHA World's Greatest Horseman.
The Circle Y Ranch Derby is decided in one go-round, and the herd work phase of the contest is now complete. Riding at the end of the first set, Jake Gorrell and A Smooth Quixote, owned by Kalpowar Quarter Horses of Midland, Texas, set the bar high with a score of 148. But in the next set, Jay McLaughlin and Shiners Nickle, owned by Michelle Cannon, Venus, Texas, also marked a 148. Although a few entries came close, no one in the next five sets was able to unseat the leaders.
For the go-round win, each was awarded $1,645. A Smooth Quixote is by Smooth As A Cat and out of SR My Quixote Lady, while Shiners Nickle is by Shining Spark and out of Shesa Lota Nic.
Belle Plains, Minnesota, trainer Kyle Noyce, who was interviewed by San Angelo television station KLST, took two horses to the top of the Intermediate Open division with scores of 146. He rode his horse TR Miss Colonel, by TR Dual Rey and out of Frecklin Rooster, as well as CNN Crystal Boon, owned by Steve Mattson of Rogers, Minnesota. CNN Crystal Boon is by Boon A Little and out of Crystal Lady Gun.
Mozaun McKibben of Whitesboro, Texas, and his horse SLJ Smart Like Hen, who he owns with Hillary Zimmerman, had the high score of the Limited Open with 145. SLJ Smart Like Hen, by Smart Like Juice and out of What A Hen, earned a check for $384.
In the Novice Horse division, NRCHA Hall of Famer Doug Williamson and Moon Me Pepto, owned by Barbara Hastings, Glendale, California, lead the pack with a 146.5, good for $389 in go-round money. Moon Me Pepto is by Peptoboonsmal and out of Lenas Sissy Moon.
The Non Pro competition was held earlier in the day, and it was former NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion Michelle Cowan who jumped to the lead with a 144. Cowan, of Ardmore, Oklahoma, was riding homebred Ruby Red Pepto, by Peptoboonsmal and out of Boomerita, to win $590. Ruby Red Pepto is owned by Cowan Ranch Inc.
Currently sitting second in the Non Pro and first in the Intermediate Non Pro division is Tucson, Arizona, competitor Karen Stallings. Stallings was riding Chexy Little Sister, owned by her husband Kevin Stallings, and earned a score of 143 from the judges. Chexy Little Sister is by NMSU Truckin Chex and out of Shiners Spumanti. Stallings collected $443 in the Non Pro and an additional $290 for the Intermediate Non Pro division.
Morgan Holmes traveled all the way from Sarasota, Florida, to compete in the NRCHA Celebration of Champions. Entered in all three Non Pro divisions, Holmes marked a 141 on Dunbuds Comet, finishing the herd work with the high score of the Amateur division, second in the Intermediate Non Pro, and tied for third in the Non Pro. Holmes, a former NRCHA Youth Limited World Champion, is also competing in the NRCHA World Championship Show this week.
The Circle Y Ranch Derby continues Sunday, January 30 with the rein work. Competition will conclude on Monday, January 31, with the NRCHA's signature event - the cow work. This year the Circle Y Ranch Derby is predicted to pay out more than $120,000!
Circle Y Ranch, one of the newest members of the NRCHA's Breeders Sponsor program, sits on a beautiful 400-acre site outside Aubrey, Texas. The Circle Y Ranch is home to Bets Smart Lena, the 2007 NRCHA Limited Open Hackamore National Champion and Reserve World Champion. For more information, visit www.circleyquarterhorses.com.
The National Reined Cow Horse Association, now in its 61st year, is the governing body of cow horse competition, is responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Adequan, Bob's Custom Saddles, Cinch, Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, John Deere, Markel Insurance Company, Nutrena, Pfizer Animal Health, Platinum Performance, Quarter Horse News, Rios of Mercedes, Running W Designs, the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, and Merial products UlcerGard and EQUIOXX, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today's equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at www.nrcha.com.