Elizabeth Quirk on Reystylin Smooth. Seth Petit photo.

Cutting has always been the great equalizer, with the deck getting a good shuffle every time a rider goes to the herd. So far, exactly half of the 56 NCHA Non-Pro World Championships have been won by women.

This year is the tie-breaker, and we already know the winner in this battle of the sexes.

For the first time ever, 15 women filled the 15 coveted spots in the World Finals. They included World Champions Mary Jo Milner (8 times, starting in 1981), Ali Good (2019), and 2020 World Standings leader Elizabeth Quirk (2018).

On Saturday, November 28, Quirk extended her lead by scoring 228 points and tying with Megan Miller in the first round of the 2020 NCHA Non-Pro World Finals in Fort Worth’s Watt Arena.

Quirk rode Reystylin Smooth, while Miller was on Metallic Smart Cat. Jody McGlothlin picked up third place in the go-round on SDP Moms TR with a 222.

Quirk had shown nine different horses through the Covid-curtailed point year to earn $53,701, giving her a $12,655 lead over Milner coming into the World Finals. She padded that by $5,433 in the first round.

Quirk, who was the NCHA limited age event Rookie of the Year in 2003 and earned the NYCHA’s Whitney Welch Memorial Award in 2007, entered the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame in 2017.

Her World Finals mount, Reystylin Smooth LTE $262,842, is a gelding bred by Eddie and Barbara Young by Smooth As A Cat, out of Rey N Style, a $102,000 earner that Sean Flynn showed in the 2011 NCHA Futurity finals.

Megan Miller, who was inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame in 2010, has lifetime earnings of $1,252,260. She’s a two-time winner of the NCHA Super Stakes (Itawtathenapuddycat in 2009 and Carolena Reyn in 2018) and Super Stakes Classic (Travs Scooter, 2009 and Carolena Reyn, 2019).

Metallic Smart Cat LTE $203,447, her only World Championship mount for 2020, was bred by Cynthia Villa, by Metallic Cat out of Smart Jerri Lee LTE $52,721. Smart Jerry Lee has produced earners of $399,538, including Smartlee As A Cat LTE $64,284.

The NCHA World Finals continues Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Watt Arena.