Ms Peppy Cat, owned by Lonnie and Barbara Allsup, Clovis, NM, and ridden by Pete Branch, broke the all-time year-end earnings record Friday on the last weekend of the World Championship point year. Her total of $122,659 eclipses Cash Quixote Rio’s previous record of $121,731, set in 1990 with Kobie Wood.

“I started the year with a bunch of green horses and they just kept getting better,” said Branch, who picked up momentum with every major stock show at the beginning of the year. In the end, including Ms Peppy Cat’s winnings, Branch and his assistant, Zack Combs, earned nearly $300,000. “We haven’t been to one aged event,” he added. “I didn’t even know that you could win that much money on the weekends, but we sure have.” In David Hart’s photo above, Shane Decker (left) is pictured with Ms Peppy Cat, Zack Combs and Pete Branch.

Branch and Miss Dainty Cat, by High Brow Cat, led the $10,000 Novice standings with $46,600; and Rockin Rollin Rey, by Dual Rey, holds second-place in the $10,000 Novice standings with Branch. Purdy Aristo Cat, also sired by High Brow Cat, leads the $3,000 Novice standings with Zack Combs, and Shakes Lil Lena, under Branch and Foster Johnston, is currently ranked third in the $3,000 Novice standings.

“I really like the weekend shows,” said Branch, who was 1992 NCHA Futurity reserve champion on Little Badger Dulce, also owned by the Allsups, and the first horse to be named NCHA of the Year (1993). In 1995, Branch and Little Badger Dulce were reserve champions to Meradas Little Sue and Kobie Wood, after six months of showing – a prelude to Lonnie Allsup’s 1996 NCHA world championship win aboard the Peppy San Badger daughter.

In a record-breaking year that saw him win most of the major Stock Show cuttings, Branch counts his first trip to the Calgary Stampede – and his win there – as one of the highlights.

Without a spectacular aged event career, Ms Peppy Cat might be considered a late bloomer. “She’s just gotten better and stronger all year,” Branch said. “Where most horses fade towards the end of the year, she just got better. I think that’s a lot of the reason why she ended up breaking the record.”