The National Reined Cow Horse Association Stakes made for a week of excitement at the Idaho Horse Park in Nampa, Idaho. From the beginning days of preliminaries to the finals, there was about anything a true cow horse fan could want - great horses, great runs, great watching, and even a visit from Idaho Governor and First Lady, Butch and Lori Otter.
But the excitement built to a crescendo when it came time for the Cow Work - the last section of competition in the triathlon that makes up a reined cow horse limited aged event. As the temperature plunged outside, the action heated up the inside.
The stage was set. Tucker Robinson was leading the field after the rein work with a 439 composite on his 2007 Hackamore Classic Champion, Days Zanolena. He was seventh to show in the cow work and he kept the lead, marking a 217.5. The score didn’t really give him a “safe” feeling. “I wasn’t real happy with my fence work. The cattle were tough, though, so it was out of my control and we did the best we could. I just had to wait and see how it worked out.”
The waiting was amplified by the trio of riders that had a clear shot at the championship. Todd Bergen on Billys Cool Cat (High Brown Cat X NQH Lucy Lena), owned by Bar L Quarter Horses. Todd Crawford on 2006 Snaffle Bit Futurity Champ Smart Crackin Chic (Smart Chic Olena X Kwackin) owned by Singleton Ranches, and Doug Williamson on Hes Wright On (Lenas Wright On X Shesa Lota Nic) owned by D & S Quarter Horses.
Doug Williamson would put together a 220.5 score - which moved him to second, just a point and a half behind Robinson’s 656.5. Todd Bergen and Billys Cool Cat would have to settle for a 214.5 after their match with an obstinate bovine. Todd Crawford and Smart Crackin Chic were able to mark only slightly better - at 215.5.
The Open Championship would go to the likeable young trainer with the big smile, and along with the championship, a check for $36,252. Robinson picked up another check for $6,570 for topping the Intermediate Open, so he had plenty to talk about when he called Matt Day, the owner of Days Zanolena, who was unable to attend.
“I told him ‘Hey, I just got you a birthday present,’” said Tucker, laughing. “We talked a lot on the phone today.”
Robinson gives much of the credit for winning to Days Zanolena. “There are good horses and there are great horses. She’s a great one. I’ve been so fortunate to ride her.”
He’ll continue to do so, as the current plans are to continue to show her at the NRCHA major events. “You know, I got her late in her 3-year-old year, and as a four, she got stronger and stronger. Now she’s five and we’ve just started. I’m just glad to have her.”
The Reserve Open Championship went to Doug Williamson on Hes Wright On, owned by Michael G. Vantreight. Williamson earned $26,712. The Reserve Intermediate Open title went to Smoky Pritchett on his own Bonnies Smart Peppy (Smart Peppy Doc X Bonnie Smoke). His composite of 644.5 earned $5,256.
Josh Auman won the Limited Open on Nic Me (Nic It In The Bud X Starlight Chex) owned by Custodio and Vickie Sanchez. He collected $4,320 for a composite score of 629.
It was Auman’s first time to enter the NRCHA Stakes, and his horse’s second show, ever. Like Robinson, he reported that his owners were unable to make the trip - in their case because of weather. “I called them and they were pretty excited!”
They got the stocking-legged sorrel stallion from Todd Bergen and Eric Storey in the spring of 2007, but shortly after, they had to give him a big layoff after surgery to remove a bone chip. “We went to Reno, but he was behind. He’s starting to catch up now.”
The Limited Open Reserve Championship and a check for $4,320 went to Brad Lund on Diamonds With Style (Playin Stylish X Shiners Diamond Jill) owned by Garth and Amanda Gardiner.
The NRCHA Stakes awarded over $308,000 in prize money to the competitors, but the Stakes Program also recognizes the sires who make up the program.
Open Champion Days Zanolena’s sire, Smart Zanolena earned $4,000 for Hooker Creek Ranch. The Lenas Wright On Syndicate received $2,500 for Hes Wright On’s second place win and Jim Babcock, owner of Smart Chic Olena, the sire of Smart Crackin Chic, received $1,500 for the third place Open finish.
The Intermediate Open Sire Award was $1,000 to Hooker Creek Ranch, for Robinson’s Intermediate Open win, and the Limited Open Sire Award recipient was Eric Storey, owner of Nic It In The Bud, sire of the Limited Open Champion, Nic Me.
The National Reined Cow Horse Association, the governing body of cow horse competition, is responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Wayne Hodges 4-Star Trailers and Outlaw Conversions, Bob's Custom Saddles, Cinch, Inc., Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, MD Barns, Platinum Performance, Inc., Nutrena, Quarter Horse News & Performance Horse magazine, the Peppermill Hotel/Resort, Fort Dodge West Nile Innovator, Rios of Mercedes, Merial products ULCERGARD and GASTROGARD, Great American Insurance Company and the Silver Legacy Hotel, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today’s equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at http://www.nrcha.com
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/tucker-robinson-days-zanolena-nrcha-03-08.html">Tucker Robinson Rides Days Zanolena to Win 2008 NRCHA Stakes</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com