Austin Shepard marked 229 on Thomas E Hughes to win the first round of the Mercuria NCHA World Finals in Fort Worth last night. Ranked second in the standings coming in to the World Finals, Thomas E Hughes narrowed the lead held by Jeremy Barwick’s Dual Rey Me, who marked 224 for third (behind Curly Tully on Stylish Curly).

“He has a lot of strengths, but he’s really intense on a cow,” said Shepard of the High Brow Cat son owned by perennial Non-Pro World Finalists Don and Kathy Boone. “We came in here behind, and Jeremy had a big score. I tried not to do anything stupid, but I tried to take advantage of an opportunity. This horse is very well trained – I can say that I guess – my dad trained him. When I bought him from my dad, that’s what I’ve done my whole life is ride horses my dad trained, so it kind of fit good.”

Thomas E Hughes earned $6,410 for the win, which moves him $8,199 behind Dual Rey Me in his World Champion bid, and also strengthened his lead in the World Champion Stallion category.

“This is a really good venue for the World Finals,” Shepard said. “Horses aren’t done when they’re seven. For them to have a big money show to let us do this during the Futurity when everybody who loves cutting is here in town, it’s just a great thing.”

Here’s a look at the first round of the Open World Finals:

Score Horse Owner Rider Earned 2009 $
229.0 Thomas E Hughes Don & Kathy Boone Austin Shepard $6,410 $70,071
226.5 Stylish Curly Katherine MacMillan Tanner Curly Tully $5,128 $33,091
224.0 Dual Rey Me Candace & Jeremy Barwick Jeremy Barwick $3,846 $78,271
221.0 Hick Chicaroo Latigo Canyon Ranch Scott Weis $3,077 $23,678
220.5 Cats Dual Olena Jarrett & Shannon Callahan Eddie Braxton $2,564 $22,186
218.5 Cats Royal Jewel Robert & Connie Rust Robert A Rust $2,051 $34,274
218.0 Neat Little Cat Jim & Judy Spaulding Scott McClurg $1,282 $52,481
218.0 Tronas Chex Dale & Erin Robbins Dale Robbins $1,282 $22,830
217.5 Jazzys Pep Talk W T Alexander Robert A Rust $44,880
217.0 Lenas Dualin Buck Daniel Mike Coleman $43,956
215.5 Captains Choice Joe & Stacey Robinson Casey C Crouch $24,677
214.0 Starcat Merada Daniel Jeaggi Chubby Turner $20,343
213.0 Acres Upon Acres Jane & Johnny Mancuso Raymond Shumate $31,407
207.0 Play Peek A Boon Oxbow Ranch Lindy Burch $19,224
201.0 Whittle Wed Boon Kate Gaughan Cookie Banuelos $28,309