It seemed fitting for a horse named Mississippi Cat to win one for the home team in Jackson, MS with a rousing 225-point performance.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled. He mesmerized everybody in the buildling,” said Mississippi Cat’s owner, Vick Etheridge, after he and rider Eddie Braxton accepted the championship trappings.
“Eddie loves him and I think it’s mutual. It was a match made in heaven.”
Mississippi Cat, a 5-year-old son of High Brow Cat, was also a finalist in the $10,000 Novice division.
“I showed him first in the $10,000 finals and cut some pretty wild cattle,” said Braxton. “He never really did come down. It was like he was a different horse.”
Braxton and Mississippi Cat won the $3,000 Novice go-round with 221 points.
“He’s always stopped really hard and moved his front end really good, but he’s starting to develop that crouch,” Braxton noted.
“A lot of horses can read a cow, but this horse can get inside a cow’s mind. He kind of plays with a cow. He’s a lot of fun.”
Etheridge purchased Mississippi Cat as a yearling at the NCHA Futurity Sales and Ray Smith started him. Both Etheridge and Braxton have shown him in the finals of major limited age events, and Etheridge will show him here this week in the $20,000 Non-Pro and the $15,000 Novice Non-Pro.
Dees Mr Charles, champion of the $10,000 Novice on Wednesday, scored 218.5 points as $3,000 Novice reserve champion under Sam Shepard.
“He’s a very consistent horse. That’s his strong point,” said Shepard, who shows the 5-year-old Its Just About Me son for Edley and Sue Hixson.
“He’s a big, strong gelding and he always gives you everything he’s got.”
Dees Mr Charles qualified for Sunday’s Open Finals with 218 points – the second highest score from the go-round.
Summerford claims $10,000 Amateur
In a field of 28 riders, it was first and second all the way. Dana Summerford, Flackville, AL, first to ride in the $10,000 Amateur Finals, won the championship with 216 points, and Marla Royer, second to the herd, claimed reserve with 215.
“It scared me to death,” said Summerford of her Final’s draw on Oh Cay Belle.
“She’s real gritty and usually I get real excited when they tell me the cows are bad because that’s her strong point. If I can get them cut, she can hold them.”
After her performance, Summerford took Oh Cay Belle to her stall and was surprised upon her return to the arena to see that she was still in the lead.
“I was just as nervous afterward as I was before,” she admitted.
Summerford missed her closest challenger, Marla Royer, who immediately followed her and scored 215 on Lets Reys Cain.
“I didn’t think my score would hold,” said Royer, who maintained her edge for reserve, with 215 points, through the last rider.
This was the first championship win for Oh Cay Belle, a 10-year-old daughter of Oh Cay Quixote, conditioned for Summerford, by Mike Legg.
Marla Royer, Carencro, LA, rode¬† Lets Reys Cain, by Dual Rey.
“We were just going to take it easy and cut off the top and that’s what we did,” said Royer, whose 7-year-old gelding is a full brother to Halreycious ($227,459) and Reydiculous ($142,703), out of Stylish Play Lena,¬† the earner of $265,000.
Photos by Jill Dunkel.