Pete Branch and Ms Peppy Cat, who set an earnings record when the mare was NCHA World Champion in 2008, could have coasted through the Mercuria Energy NCHA World Finals which started last night. They brought an unbeatable lead of more than $38,000 to the show in Fort Worth.
But that’s not Pete Branch. And that’s not Ms Peppy Cat.
Riding midway through the set, and right after Kobie Wood posted a 222 on Boon Too Suen, Ms Peppy Cat brought the crowd to a crescendo with a 229 performance.
“We didn’t get there by taking it easy,” Branch said. “My goal was just to go show her. This is a good crowd and a lot of people have never seen her. I want them to see what a really nice horse she is.”
Ms Peppy Cat, an 8-year-old daughter of High Brow Cat, has earned more than a quarter-million dollars for owners Lonnie and Barbara Allsup. She’s no stranger to big scores – she won the Mercuria NCHA World Series events at Houston and Reno this year with scores of 227.5 and 227, respectively, under the five-judge system.
“That’s what’s amazing about this mare,” Branch said. “As many runs as she’s made, she still has it. You can’t say enough good things about one like that.”
Branch, who also rode Horse of the Year and Reserve World Champion Little Badger Dulce for the Allsups, said Ms Peppy Cat “is right there with any of them. It took her awhile to put it together, but when she did, she showed she was an amazing horse. She’s very, very smart and nothing but heart.”
Matt Gaines, whose wife, Tara, won the first round of the Non-Pro earlier in the evening, marked 226 on Ralph Gray’s Just Playin Smart to finish second in the night’s Open competition.
The World Finals continue tonight, and resume on December 2 and December 4 in the Watt Arena. Cutting horse fans are likely to be treated to more of the same.
“I’m going to try to win every one of them,” Branch said. “She’s that kind of horse. I’m just going to show her like I showed her for three years: wide open. That’s the only way she knows how to do it.”