Metallic Rebel, ridden by Beau Galyean, and Deluxe Checks, ridden by Austin Shepard tied with 233s. Hart Photography.

World leader Deluxe Checks and presumptive Horse of the Year Metallic Rebel laid down 233s Friday night to split the win in the first round of the Mercuria NCHA World Finals in the Watt Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

April Widman and Woodys Baby took the first round of the Non-Pro with a 228.

Deluxe Checks, ridden by Austin Shepard for Amanda and Rhein Standish of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a 6-year-old mare by Im Countin Checks. Kyle Manion bred the mare out of Catrina Starlight. The Standishs bought her as a yearling for $34,500 at the Western Bloodstock Futurity Sales. Brett Davis won the Augusta Classic on Deluxe Checks last year, and Austin Shepard has racked up up titles at the NCHA Eastern Nationals, the West Texas Futurity, and the Mercuria NCHA World Series at Congress.

Shepard, who was World Champion in 2011 with Bet Hesa Cat, ran Deluxe Checks up to $123,199 during the regular season’s World Championship race. They have $128,831 following the first round of the World Finals. If their momentum carries through, they could put Special Nu Baby’s all-time World Championship record of $142,346 in jeopardy.

Metallic Rebel, ridden by Beau Galyean for Thomas Guinn of Philadelphia, Mississippi, sits in fourth place in the World Standings, in a season which also saw him sew up the Horse of the Year title. Bred by Alvin Fults by Metallic Cat out of Sweet Abra, the 5-year-old stallion has 2017 wins at the NCHA Super Stakes Classic, Brazos Bash, Abilene Spectacular, Pacific Coast Futurity, Pacific Coast Derby and Arbuckle Mountain.

April Widman on Woodys Baby.

April Widman of Weatherford, Texas, who was Reserve World Champion Non-Pro last year, marked 228 in the first round of the Non-Pro on Woodys Baby, her 8-year-old gelding by Nitas Wood. Mike Jones bred Woodys Baby out of You N Me Baby.

Widman is leading in the Non-Pro standings with $110,787, more than $15,000 ahead of Kylie Rice. Lindy Ashlock and Little Miss One Time marked 222 for second in the first round.

The Open and Non-Pro Mercuria World Finals continue in the Watt Arena on Saturday, November 25 and Thursday, November 30, concluding on Saturday, December 2. Eight other World Championship classes will be featured during the days of November 29 through December 2.