The Finals Night That Moved Us All
Author: Lauren Middleton
Derby Non Pro Finals
It truly was a Cinderella story at the 2018 Metallic Cat NCHA Summer Spectacular for Kenli Marvin and her little paint mare Cinderella Cat (Thomas E Hughes x Miss Instant Choice)! They marked a 223 for the win and the $18,348 Non-Pro Derby Champion’s check.
Kenli Marvin and Cinderella Cat
Kenli and “Keeper” have had a special relationship from the start! Kenli purchased Keeper's dam Miss Instant Choice from the July, 2014, Western Bloodstock sale, and she had a flashy weanling by her side. Kenli didnt know it at the time that that youngster with Miss Instant Choice would turn out to be a Champion and huge blessing. Kenli had a special paint horse when she was little and said one day she wanted to have another one! She bought her with her own money for the most part with a little extra help from her parents then played a huge part in training Keeper alongside her dad Tommy Marvin.
Keeper going through the Western Bloodstock sale pen in 2015 with her dam, Miss Instant Choice. • Photo courtesy of Western Bloodstock
Kenli and Keeper after their run!
Keeper was not always the easiest as Kenli explained. She was tough to train, but she quickly learned that sometimes the toughest individuals turn out to be the ones with the most heart! Keeper displayed how true that was this week having ten runs under her belt. She was just as good and tried just as hard every time ultimately claiming one championship title, being a finalist in the Limited Derby Non-Pro, and ending up fourth in the Derby Open with Kenli’s dad. It was a dream come true for this family and for Kenli! She told us she also has Keeper’s two-year-old little brother who is just as colorful, and she is excited to see what the future has in store for him. Kenli wanted to thank her help and her family for everything that they have done to allow her the chance to achieve the things she has at this show! She also gives all of the glory to God because with him all things are possible!
Kenli and Keeper
Emotions ran high when her 223 posted after their run!
Reserve Champion was Todd Quirk and Real Suen (Boon Too Suen x Donas Cool Cat) marking a 219.5. They collected a $16,598 check along with the Gelding Division Championship! This gelding comes from a long line of awesome horses and showed us how great he is coming out on top late in the second set of finals. This was a perfect start to the memorable evening for the Quirks!
Todd Quirk and Real Suen
Third Place was Megan Miller riding Spur That Spot (Spots Hot x Princess Clarence) marking a 218 to take home a $14,849 check.
Megan Miller and Spur That Spot
The Senior Division Champion was Bill Lacy riding Cougar’s Diesel (Highbrow Cougar x Miss Remanita) marking a 214.5.
Bill Lacy and Cougars Diesel
Derby Open Finals
The Derby Open Finals last night could only be described as “Epic!” It is funny how no matter how exhausted everyone is or how ready we are to simply sleep in our own beds Finals Night at these Triple Crown Events bring us to life. They have that special allure that give you goosebumps and make you nervous for each horse and rider. It was that way for Champion Lee Francois and The Animal (Cat Ichi x My Little Abra), owned by Richard and Beth Carney! “Animal” is always one to wow us with his unique style, but last night he was on fire!
Lee Francois and The Animal
The Animal and Lee's winning run
Lee made it look easy setting up the young stallion for success with the perfect cows to fit him! He was able to get low and do the things that inspired his name. “He is just an animal” was a comment made by his owners when they first watched him work. You cannot take your eyes off of him! The pair has had some tough luck since their Reserve Championship at the 2017 NCHA Futurity, but they came out of the trenches in a big way at this show winning both the Semifinals with a 222 then the finals with a huge 228! This win added another $39,231 to their earnings. Animal has been such a blessing for Team Francois, and they are so deserving of success!
Holly Francois after the run!
Holly and Lee
Lee Francois and The Animal
Reserve Champion came from the last hole draw with Adan Banuelos and his pint-sized pony Catillac Reys (Metallic Cat x Tootsie Rey), owned by Ten/27 Ranch. The duo marked a 225.5 to not only claim the Reserve Championship but also the first Metallic Cat Incentive given by the Rockin P Ranch. This added another $100,000 to their $34,611 Reserve Champion’s check. An incentive like this is unbelievable to have available in this industry, and to have it associated with Metallic Cat, one of the best producers of this time, is only fitting. He has made an impact in so many ways and had a huge part in shaping what the sport is today. Adan was rendered almost speechless after his run making the whole event very moving to say the least. To top off the evening, “Little Engine” claimed the Gelding Division Champion’s title for the Quirks as well!
Adan Banuelos and Catillac Reys
Adan and "Little Engine" after their run
Adan and his Dad after his run
Third Place was Paul Hansma riding SCR Hydrive Chic (Hydrive Cat x Smart Crackin Chic), owned by the Singleton Ranches, marking a 223 to collect a $29,991 check!
Paul Hansma and SCR Hydrive Chic
Paul all smiles after his run!
As said before, the last night at these shows is when dreams come true! We work towards accomplishments like making the finals at the Triple Crown events day in and day out, so, when it comes together, there is a sense of overwhelming pride for not only those involved but also for those spectating. You cannot help but smile or get choked up when things go well or be sad when they do not. It is a full slate of emotions there is no doubt about that, but, ultimately, that is why we do it. There is no other feeling like it! Congratulations to all of those who were a part of this amazing evening, and we look forward to the next one!