Bellwether for the cutting industry

December 21st, 2011

As the performance horse world’s richest indoor event, the NCHA Futurity and the pedigrees of the event’s open finalists reveal a lot about cutting horse breeding trends, and have a substantial impact on future crops of contenders.

The 2011 NCHA Open Futurity, for instance, consisted of 25 finalists, 10 of which (40 percent) were sired by High Brow Cat, including champion Oh Miss Caroline and reserve champion Jewel Bars Cat, as well as three other finalists sired by sons of High Brow Cat.

Highbrow Supercat

Those percentages were not a surprise to cutting horse breeders, who have seen High Brow Cat dominate leading sire charts for nearly a decade. Still, some were surprised that six of the 25 finalists were out of High Brow Cat daughters, including Cinca De Maya, by Dual Rey, and Peptos Supercat, by Peptoboonsmal, both out of 2005 NCHA Futurity champion Highbrow Supercat.

Unlike Smart Little Lena, his closest rival as all-time leader in offspring earnings, High Brow Cat did not take the cutting world by storm with his first crop – seven foals of 1993. But those paying attention were impressed by the fact that two of those seven were 1996 Futurity Open finalists – Cats Summertime and Cats Got Ya.

Between 1997 and 2002, High Brow Cat sired a total of seven more Futurity finalists, still not an overwhelming show of force, but one that included 1999 reserve champion A Hocus Pocus Cat.

High Brow Cat’s breakthrough year was 2003, when he sired seven Futurity finalists (out of a 25-horse field), including the champion One Smart Lookin Cat. He followed with 10 in 2004; six in 2005, including champion Highbrow Supercat; 12 in 2006, including champion Oh Cay Felix and reserve champion Hydrive Cat; six each year from 2006 through 2010, including champions High Brow CD (2007) and Metallic Cat (2008), and reserve champion Smart Kitty RG (2008).

In the 12 years, from 1996 through 2007, just two Futurity Open finalists came from High Brow Cat daughters. But there were three in 2008 and four in 2009.

Could 2011 be 23-year-old High Brow Cat’s breakthrough year as a broodmare sire? One thing is certain, cutters who tagged him as a sire of sires, but dismissed him as a broodmare sire, will be taking a second look at his daughters during the sales in 2012.

Find out more about the breeding of Futurity champions in Cutting Horse Gold: 50 Years of the NCHA Futurity.