Austin Shepard Wins Final Leg of the NCHA Triple Crown Events for 2017!
Author: Lauren Middleton
Last Night in the NCHA Summer Spectacular Derby Open Austin Shepard once again came from his favorite spot, the last hole in the finals to claim the win! He and his talented young stallion, Sir Long Legs (High Brow Cat x Lil Lena Long Legs) owned by Lew Hall, marked a huge 229 to take home the Champion’s check amounting to $41,097!
This win allowed him to join Tom Lyons and Matt Gaines in being the only three "Open Riders" to claim all four of the NCHA Major event titles including the Open Futurity, Super Stakes, Summer Spectacular and World Champion Titles! He has come close to this title being Reserve Champion on Widows Intentions in 2004 but this show has been the one to elude him. It was something that he always wanted to accomplish and he did it in a big way.
The excitement was in the air as the pair walked into the pen because everyone knew they could put together a big run. As the run went on and it kept building Austin knew his horse was on he needed to just let it happen and not force anything. He and his help especially Bill Riddle and Brett Davis, who both stayed just to help Austin, had a plan to cut two cows which he started with then the last cow was just one that shaped up the best. Austin went on to say that he could not even tell you the last cow he cut but he knew he did not need to go searching for anything to finish the great run. So many times he has gotten himself in a bind doing that and he just knew that if tonight was his night it would happen, and it certainly did!
Austin Shepard and Sir Long Legs
Austin was so grateful to everyone involved in his win. As mentioned before Bill Riddle and Brett Davis both have been there for every win that he has accomplished in the big pen and made a point to be there for him last night. Sean Flynn and Ronnie Rice helped him as well and have been involved in so much of his success both in and out of the show pen. His son Cade has been the only one other than Austin who has ridden “Spanky” and has put so much work into this horse’s career.
The entire Circle S Crew has played a huge role in this win, as in any other barn it is all about the support system and backing that make the program so successful! We want to congratulate Austin, his wife Stacy for achieving this win and the final jewel of the Triple Crown series, it could not happen to better people! Also, a huge congratulations to Lew Hall for his stallion’s awesome year so far, adding another major title just makes it that much sweeter.
Austin Shepard and Sir Long Legs Austin Shepard and Bill Riddle
Reserve Champion was Matt Miller riding Metallic Smart Cat (Metallic Cat x Smart Jerri Lee) owned by Cynthia Villa marking a 224! They collected a $36,227 check adding to the great night Matt Miller Cutting Horses was already having. To top it off Matt also ended up sixth riding Lou Lou Louise (Dual Smart Rey x Miss Woody Two Shoes) marking a 221.5 for owner Lannie Louise Mecom. Matt was consistently on top in every round on both of these horses and went for it in the finals it was something fun to watch!
Matt Miller and Metallic Smart Cat
Tied for third place was Tatum Rice riding Hashtags (Metallic Cat x Dual Rey Tag) owned by Hashtags Ventures LP and Clint Allen riding Pharoah And James (Hickorys Indian Pep x Wise Little Miss) owned by David and Stacie McDavid both marking a 223. They each received a $29,752 check for their impressive runs last night. Something even more impressive is that both of these talented trainers along with Austin have been hauling down the road in the weekend Open cuttings while trying to keep their aged event horses performing their best. It seems they are making it work being on top in these finals and sitting one, two, and three in the Open World Standings!
Tatum Rice and Hashtags
Clint Allen and Pharoah And James
Last night was full of excitement and some excellent runs as to be expected at one of the NCHA Triple Crown events. There were eight horses and riders that ended up above a 220 and many other great runs along with those. It was a night to remember in the Will Rogers! Congratulations to everyone on their success. We will be headed to the West Texas Futurity next followed by the Idaho Futurity and the Cotton Stakes Classic.
See all the highlights from the Open Derby Finals below: