Lloyd Dennis Cox is one of the National Cutting Horse Association’s superstar riders. He has won many of the sport’s larger shows, including the NCHA Futurity, which is the first jewel of the NCHA’s Triple Crown Series.
But there’s one major show Cox hasn’t won. That’s the NCHA Super Stakes, which is the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
Cox, who has NCHA earnings of more than $6.85 million and won the 2010 NCHA Futurity on One Time Royalty, could add a Super Stakes victory to his list of accomplishments on a talented stallion named Smooth Talkin Style.
The duo advanced to Saturday night’s 4-year-old open division final after turning in a remarkable score of 221.5 in the semifinals Friday at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
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Matt Miller and Sweet Lil Amanda won the semifinal with a 222.
A field of 20 horses with scores of at least 215.5 advanced to the final. No previous scores will count in the final.
Cox and Smooth Talkin Style, which is owned by Fort Worth resident Gail Holmes and Hill Ranches, have the distinction of earning a final-round berth in each of the first two jewels of the 2014-2015 Triple Crown Series.
During the Futurity in December, the duo advanced to the final round and finished second overall.
The Futurity is traditionally the first jewel of theTriple Crown. The April Super Stakes is the second jewel, and the July Summer Spectacular serves as the third jewel. All three jewels are conducted in Fort Worth.
During the Futurity finals on Dec. 13, Cox and Smooth Talkin Style finished second after turning in a score of 225. Phil Hanson and Classy CD Cat won the Futurity with a 228.
Cox said Smooth Talkin Style thrives on being both very athletic and highly intelligent.
“No. 1, he has great ability — he stops good and he moves good,” Cox said. “And the other great thing is he’s really smart about how he does it.”
Cox said the stallion usually does very well when his rider makes the right decisions.
“If you give him a good chance, he’s usually going to do his job,” Cox said of Smooth Talkin Style. “If I give him the proper opportunity, he’s usually good.
“He’s the type of horse that if you put him in a good position on a good cow, he usually takes advantage of the opportunity.”
With that in mind, Cox exudes confidence when he rides into the herd aboard Smooth Talkin Style. The horse is a 4-year-old, first-year competitor, which means Cox could have a lot to look forward to throughout the rest of this season, plus two additional years on the aged event circuit.
After competing this season on the aged event circuit, Smooth Talkin Style also will be eligible to compete in the 5- and 6-year-old competitions throughout 2016 and 2017.
Smooth Talkin Style could potentially earn lots of money on the aged event circuit.
“He makes you feel comfortable,” Cox said. “I’m happy to have him. It’s really hard to find a good horse.
“I’m very comfortable with him, and I can count on him to do his part.”