The first draw in the NCHA Mercuria Open Finals, during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on Saturday, February 28, was the ticket for Bamacat, shown by Austin Shepard for the Bamacat Syndicate. The 6-year-old stallion, sired by High Brow Cat, won the qualifying go-round with 224 points, then came back with a 223-point win in the finals.
Eight-year-old One Time Shorty, sired by One Time Pepto and owned by Brenda Berry, scored 222 points for reserve, while 8-year-old WR This Cats A Lena, sired by WR This Cats Smart and owned by Terry Strange, claimed third place with 220.5 points. Both geldings were ridden by John Kirby.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Shepard of Bamacat, who he and his wife, Stacy, bred out of MH San Tules Dually, winner of $330,220. “He’s really smart and he tries hard.
“He had some stifle issues through his aged event career that hindered him. He was never lame, but it nagged at him. Since he had surgery for it last year, he’s gotten a lot stronger.”
Bamacat, who won the 2014 Augusta 5/6 Classic, earned the reserve title of the 2015 Augusta Classic last month.
Dan Hansen wins Non-Pro Finals
It’s a rhetorical question, when it comes to Dan Hansen and his 15-year-old gelding Woody Be Lucky, who won the NCHA Mercuria Non-Pro Finals with 225 points. It was the pair’s second Mercuria win in 2015 and their sixth, altogether, since 2011. They are also two-time NCHA Non-Pro World Finals winners and two-time NCHA Non-Pro World Champions, with official NCHA earnings of $695,979.
“It was a hard run in that there was no down time,” said Hansen of the Houston Finals ride aboard his 15-year-old gelding. “The cows that we cut were pretty fast and testy, and consequently ‘Freak’ was doing everything he had to do to hold them.
“He was spot on and probably as good as he’s ever been. He had sand from his ears to his hooves. You know when they come out looking like that, it was a tough run.”
Woody Be Lucky, by Nitas Wood, was bred by Craig Crumpler, who also bred 2014 NCHA Horse of the Year Junie Wood, by Nitas Wood and owned by Glade Knight.
Michelle Anderson scored 220 points on 10-year-old Reyn Maker, by Dual Rey to earn the Non-Pro reserve title; Andrew Viola placed third with 218 points aboard 10-year-old Purdy Bet, by Bet On Me 895.