Austin Shepard won his first NCHA Eastern Nationals championship when he was 25, showing the Freckles Playboy son Widows Freckles for Robert Middleton, Summit, Miss., in 2002. Nineteen years later, on Monday, March 8, 2021, Shepard won his eleventh – and sixth consecutive – NCHA Eastern Nationals Open title riding CR Dualin Out Tuff for Julie Beasley, Montgomery, Ala.
In addition to his 223-point win on CR Dualin Out Tuff LTE $100,368, by Woody Be Tuff, Shepard also scored 220.5 points for the reserve championship on Bama Jelly LTE $232,479, owned and bred by Madalyn Colgrove, Boligee, Ala., and sired by Bamacat LTE $351,360, owned and bred by Austin and Stacy Shepard, Summerdale, Ala.
Bradey Davis, Texarkana, Tex., placed third with 220 points on Rammer Jammer LTE $48,922, also sired by Bamacat, and bred by Cynthia Patty, Lindale, Tex. Davis, the NCHA earner of $388,073, also showed Thatz The Rumor LTE $15,415, owned by Kelli Burba, Altoona, Fla., to place third in the $25,000 Novice on March 5.
This was not the first time in all-age and limited age event competition that Austin Shepard, the NCHA Hall of Fame earner of over $8.5 million, has claimed the championship and reserve championship in the same finals. In 2019 he won the Eastern Nationals Open championship with 229 points on 2017 NCHA Futurity champion Dual Reyish LTE $192,672, owned by Billy Wolf; locked down the reserve championship with 223 points on Lew Hall’s colt Sir Long Legs LTE $404,421; and placed third with CR Dualin Tuff LTE $77,598, a full brother owned and bred by Center Ranch to CR Dualin Out Tuff.
Austin Shepard claimed his first pair of Open NCHA Eastern Nationals championships and reserves in 2003, when he won with Jim Johnson’s gelding Uno Dos Seventyseven LTE $171,388 and placed second on Purple Lynx LTE $97,702, owned by Jennie Johnson.
In 2017, Shepard was co-champion of the NCHA Eastern Nationals Open with his father, the late Sam Shepard, who rode Twistful Thinking LTE $280,835 for Austin and Stacy, while Austin was aboard Deluxe Checks LTE $283,156, owned by Amanda and Rhein Standish. In 2011, when Austin won the Nationals on Playin At The Mall LTE $292,464, owned by Buster Quirk, Sam was reserve champion on Dees Mr Charles LTE $192,976, owned by Edley and Sue Hixson.
Six-year-old CR Dualin Out Tuff won last’s NCHA Eastern Nationals $5,000 Novice with Shepard. In 2018 Julie Beasley rode the mare to place third in the NCHA Non-Pro Futurity and came back in 2019 to win the Ike Hamilton Amateur Derby, the Breeders Invitational Amateur Unlimited, and the Cotton Stakes Amateur.
Bred by Center Ranch, CR Dualin Out Tuff is out of the Dual Pep daughter ARC Catty Dual LTE $168,762, the dam of earners of $647,481.
Shepard’s 2021 NCHA Eastern Nationals reserve champion, Bama Jelly, won the 2019 Arbuckle Mountain 4-Year-Old Open and the 2019 Augusta Futurities with Shepard, and in 2020 claimed the Southern Futurity 5/6 Open, as well as the Non-Pro championship, with Madalyn Colgrove.
The NCHA Eastern National Championships Presented by 6666 Ranch continue through March 13, 2021.