NRCHA Derby Champions Crowned in Paso Robles, California

Author: NRCHA

NRCHA Derby Champions Crowned in Paso Robles, California

A thrilling day of reined cow horse action on Saturday, June 16, wrapped up the main event at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Derby in Paso Robles, California, with the finals for Open and Non Pro competitors. Champions were crowned in three Open and three Non Pro Derby divisions. 
The NRCHA Derby is one of the largest and richest events for 4- and 5-year-old reined cow horses, with the total payout in 2018 exceeding $300,000. Shown two-handed in a snaffle bit or a hackamore, horses are judged in three events: rein work, herd work and cow work.
Derby Open Champion 
Justin Wright Run-Interview
Click the player window above to see Shiners Diamond Cat and Justin Wright's 225.5 Derby Open Finals cow work run.
Humble is not a word you would expect to hear from a competitor with three horses qualified for the clean-slate finals of the Open Derby but, that is how NRCHA Professional Justin Wright described his week in Paso Robles, California. The 2017 NRCHA Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby Champion returned to the Heart Equestrian Center working towards another opportunity to win the coveted title, and that is exactly what he accomplished.
"It was a very humbling week and it was just fun," Wright said. "Last year we had a great year, but this week has been so much fun, just enjoying doing good and enjoying the ride and the good horses."
All eyes were on the Santa Maria, California, horseman and Shiners Diamond Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Shiners Diamond Lady x Shining Spark) as they maintained a solid lead throughout the preliminary go-rounds with an overall score of 665.5. Come finals time, the team seemed to find a new level of performance, marking an incredible 672 in the Derby Open Finals composite (225 herd / 221.5 rein / 225.5 cow).
"I knew I had to be big. I had to make something happen. My mare was great. She tried her guts out and I was just along for the ride. She handled everything," Wright said.
Mike and James Draper bought the 2014 mare from Roger and Cynthia Bias in her three-year-old year. The Drapers owned horses in the past, but they never made it to the show pen. "They are the greatest owners that you could ever ask for," Wright said. "They are the nicest people."
They say it takes a village, and that could not be more true for Justin Wright Performance Horses. Wright thanked his team back home, his help here at the show, his herd help and his good friend/ mentor, Clayton Edsall. "If it was not for them, I would not be here doing this," he said.
Wright, eager to praise Shiners Diamond Cat said, "That's what means the most to me about this show, is having her win it. It is all about her. She supposed to win those and I'm basically along for the ride."
The Championship paid $39,89.19 and came with prizes including a saddle from Bob's Custom Saddles, a Gist buckle; boots from Lucchese and product from Platinum Performance. 
Derby Intermediate Open Champion 
Bet He Sparks ridden by Clayton M. Edsall - 2018 NRCHA Derby (FINALS, Cow - Open)
Click the player window above to see Clayton Edsall and Bet He Sparks' 228 cow work.
To say Clayton Edsall, Oakdale, California, is a fierce competitor with horsepower underneath of him would be an understatement. The California horseman piloted six horses to the Intermediate Open Finals and five horses to the Open Finals, collecting winnings that exceed $92,000.
The 2018 NRCHA Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby Intermediate Open Championship belonged to Clayton Edsall and Bet He Sparks (Bet Hesa Cat x Sparking Train x Shining Spark) owned by K & L Phillips, LLC. The pair scored a 219 in the herd, a 223 in the reining and a 228 down the fence for a composite of 670, giving them a first place finish in the Intermediate and second place finish in the Open. Edsall said, "He's a really good horse and he's got a great personality. He stops hard and cows great. He's easy."
After winning the NRCHA Stakes Open and Intermediate Open Championships, Edsall had high hopes of achieving the same accolades at the NRCHA Derby. He took first, second and third place in the Intermediate Open, while scoring a 228 down the fence, twice, during the :Open Derby Finals performance.
"We needed a lot of cow and that's what we got," Edsall said. "I put a lot of trust in him. The horse is pretty special, because I bought and started him. Then, I sold him to a great customer and friend and got to keep him."
Knowing what it took to guide four horses through the Stallion Stakes Finals, Edsall went home and began to prepare to take six horses through the triathlon of finals. "Not bogging myself down in one event or one maneuver. Just making sure I could get through everything smooth and keep them all happy and trying," he said.
Horse shows are a true family affair for the Edsalls. His wife, children and mother were at the show all week to cheer him on. Edsall wanted to thank his family,customers, Don Murphy and his herd help throughout the week. "When you have so many great athletes, it takes a lot of care and a lot of people to care for them," said Edsall.
Limited Open Champion

Making the drive from Calhan, Colorado to Paso Robles, California was well worth it to the newly crowned NRCHA Derby Limited Open Champion Dave Dillman.
The NRCHA Professional piloted his own horse, Playing With Rey (Play Dual Rey x Arc Holly Cee Lena x Smart Little Lena), to a combined score of 645.5. Dillman and his 2013 mare earned a 214 in the herd work, 215 in the rein work and 216.5 down the fence, taking a permanent lead in the Limited Open Finals and winning a paycheck of more then $4,000.
"She's been a great mare for me. She is super consistent and easy to train and good to show," Dillman said. "She is super cow smart."
Playing With Rey will eventually be passed onto Dave's wife, and fellow peer, Reanna, to be shown in the two rein and the bridle. Dillman was quick to thank his beautiful wife for all her support.
Derby Non Pro & Intermediate Non Pro Champion
Making frequent appearances in Non Pro Finals, Bart Holowath and Smart Lookin Nurse (WR This Cats Smart x NurseWare x Dual Rey) captured two titles, the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro Derby Championships, with an overall score of 653.5 (219 herd / 215.5 rein / 219 cow).
With dual wins, comes dual prizes, including a Bob's Custom Saddle, two Gist buckles and product from Lucchese, Shorty's Caboy Hattery and Platinum Performance, along with a win check totaling more than $11,000.
Holowath and his 2013 gelding "Finn" have been partners since the horse's three-year-old year. "This horse is a great horse. He knows his maneuvers. He knows what to do,"Holowath said. "I just have to keep up with him."
"When you have a horse as good as that one, you go down the road because you may not ever get another one," said Holowath. Over the years, the NRCHA Derby has been good to the Holowaths. Bart and his wife Terri enjoy their time in Paso Robles, California, making it their yearly vacation from Cayley, Alberta.
Bart explained how special it is that he and Terri share their love of horses and horse shows. He thanked his wife for all her support, John Swales and Cayley Wilson for their herd help, and Suzon Schaal, DVM. Bart also expressed thanks for the National Reined Cow Horse Association and it's sponsors for hosting great premier events.
Derby Novice Non Pro Champion
If you are an owner, rider or fan of reined cow horses, you have experienced the roller coaster of emotions that come with the sport. Non Pro competitor LaDona Emmons is no exception to this rule, after spending the past week experience the peaks and valleys the reined cow horse has to offer.
It all came down to the cow work for Emmons and Hey Nicci (Nic It In The Bud x Sugartime 691 x Docs Hickory). Topping the preliminary chart of the Non Pro divisions after two preliminary events, Emmons and "Nicci" ran into some tough luck in the fence work, leaving her to wonder if she was tough enough for this sport. "When I got back in the Novice Finals, it made me happy that I could at least try and go down the fence one more time. Today it felt really good, we got it set up right and for me it was really good," Emmons said. It was the opportunity to go down the fence one more time, that lead Emmons and her 2013 mare to the 2018 NRCHA Derby Novice Non Pro Championship title and earnings exceeding $1,500. The pair marked a 213 in the herd work, a 215.5 in the rein work and a big 220.5 down the fence for a composite of 649, sealing the win.
"These are the best group of people to show with. Everybody cheers for everybody and understands that you can be at the top one moment, and then not at the top so quickly," Emmons said.
LaDona's husband, NRCHA Professional Ron Emmons, made the Derby Intermediate Open Finals, making the day even more special for the couple. Emmons thanked her husband Ron for all his help with "Nicci" and for always supporting her. She was also thankful for all of her friends at the show that continue to encourage her throughout her journey.
NRCHA Derby Horse Show Class Champions
Non Pro Hackamore
Winning the Non Pro Hackamore Championship was Rachel Reedy aboard her 2013 gelding, Uno Whats Wright (Hes Wright On x Uno What Weeno x Smart Little Uno).
The team marked a 143.5 in the reining and a 144 down the fence, for a composite of 287.5. Reedy, Morongo Valley, California, collected a $1,050 paycheck for the win, along with a CR Morrison resin trophy sponsored by the Will Rogers Memorial Center and a straw hat from Shorty's Caboy Hattery.
$1,000 Non Pro Limited
The $1,000 Non Pro Limited Championship belonged to Smoking Red Pepper (Smokeelan x A Red Belle Pepper x Mister Dual Pep) and Sue Schmitz, Phoenix, Arizona.
Schmitz's composite score of 291.5, a142.5 in rein work and an incredible 149 in the cow, sent her to the top of the class of thirty competitors. Schmitz and her 2010 stallion were awarded home a $437 win check, a CR Morrison resin trophy sponsored by the Will Rogers Memorial Center, a gift certificate from Platinum Performance and a Shorty's Caboy straw hat.
Join us on Sunday, June 17, for the last of the Derby action by visiting for the FREE, LIVE webcast. The photos in this email are provided by NRCHA Official Photographer Primo Morales and vidoes are provided by NRCHA Official Videogapher Equine Promotion.

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