Bonnie Johnson and Smart Lil Vidalia
Bonnie Johnson and Smart Lil Vidalia

“This is a special horse,” said Bonnie Johnson of Smart Lil Vidalia, after the pair scored 222 points to win the $10,000 Novice championship on Thursday.

It was the first major NCHA title for Smart Lil Vidalia, a 9-year-old Smart Lil Highbrow daughter owned by George Hearst.

It was also the third championship win this year for Johnson, who claimed the Gelding Open and Open Novice titles for Hearst at the Pacific Coast Derby on Memphis Raines and My Lil Lanta Lena, respectively. The PCCHA Derby champs are both sired by Hearst’s stallion Mylanta Lena.

My Lil Lanta Lena and Johnson also placed sixth in the PCCHA Open Derby.

Reserve champion Brian Anderson.
Reserve champion Brian Anderson.

Johnson’s richest win came in 2007, when she was reserve champion of the PCCHA Futurity Open Gelding division on The Roan Patron, owned by Sue Hearst.

Pinkys Little Sue and Brian Anderson scored 218 points for reserve in the $10,000 Novice. The 6-year-old Peptoboonsmal daughter, owned by Frank Vandersloot, Idaho Falls, ID, is out of 3-time NCHA world champion Meradas Little Sue, an all-time leading money earner, as well as a leading dam.

“I was pretty tickled with the way she performed today,” said Anderson, who was 2008 Open co-champion of the Western Nationals aboard Pinkys Little Sue’s full brother Quite A Boon.

The stallion Meradas Blue Sue, a three-quarter brother to Pinkys Little Sue and Quite A Boon, was also Open co-champion in 2007.

Jalinda Covey and Gavin Jordan with Tomcat Chex.
Jalinda Covey and Gavin Jordan with Tomcat Chex.

$3,000 Novice

Tomcat Chex and Gavin Jordan scored 221 points to take the $3,000 championship, while Call Me Smurf and Guy Heintz placed as reserve with 220 points, and Scatter with Brent Erickson took third with 219.5.

“He’s gentle and cowy and a good show horse — everything you could want,” said Gavin Jordan of 8-year-old Tomcat Chex, owned by Jalinda Covey, Dixon, CA.

Jordan drew last to work in the first set of cattle, but had no qualms.

“I know this horse pretty well. I can cut quicker cows on him because he he gets better as he goes along with a quicker one.

“Our first cut was a lot of cow, but he handled it.”

Tomcat Chex, an 8-year-old son of High Brow Cat, was the NCHA $3,000 Novice world champion stallion last year with Jordan, as well as NCHA $5,000 Novice reserve world champion with Covey.

“He’s an amazing horse,” said Covey. “My grandkids ride him.”

Call Me Smurf drew first in the same bunch where Tomcat Chex worked last.

Guy Heintz.
Guy Heintz.

“We got the good draw,” said Guy Heintz. “The cattle had been pretty tough, but we cut what we had picked. When you’re first up, you just have to come and let everybody else chase you.”

Call Me Smurf’s score went up on the scoreboard as 218 points, but was later adjusted to 220.

The 6-year-old gelding, owned by Neil Shanks, Alberta, Canada, was raised by Heintz, who owns the horse’s sire, Jose Boon.

“There’s very tough competition in Alberta,” said Heintz, who was NCHA Western National Open co-champion last year riding Code Six Cat for Ronald Bird and Francis Kornfield.

“We were first or second last year with our number of entries for NCHA Day (for North America).”

Heintz’s wife, Moneca, and daughter, Maria, have both been leading non-pro competitors in Canada.