The National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes concluded its 24-day run with a tie between two superstar riders.
Phil Rapp, a Weatherford resident, and Lloyd Dennis Cox, who has a training facility in Marietta, Okla., each rode horses that turned in open division scores of 223 as the renowned NCHA event ended Saturday night at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
Rapp rode a stallion named Don’t Stopp Believin that he owns with his wife, Mary Ann. Cox was aboard a stallion named Smooth Talkin Style, co-owned by Gail Holmes of Fort Worth and Dottie St. Clair Hill of Glen Rose.
After the two horses tied, each group of owners received $56,954.
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Lindy Burch of Weatherford finished third with a 221.5. The third-place finish earned the Oxbow Ranch $35,405.
The Super Stakes’ 4-year-old open division is the middle jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series. The other two jewels — which also are in Fort Worth — are the December Futurity and the July Summer Spectacular.
Sharing the open title was special for Rapp, who also won the Super Stakes open division in 1994 aboard a mare named Tap O Lena, the great grandmother of Don’t Stopp Believin.
Along with a win in 2006 aboard Dual Smart Rey, Rapp now has the distinction of winning the Super Stakes during three different decades.
Don’t Stopp Believin was sired by Dual Rey and was out of Don’t Look Twice.
“That horse has a lot of the quickness of his mother and grandmother,” Rapp said of Don’t Stopp Believin.
Rapp grabbed lots of attention 21 years ago when he won the Super Stakes on Tap O Lena. He was 24 at the time and was showing exceptional ability as a younger competitor. Twenty-one years later, he’s billed as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Mary Ann Rapp also is a successful competitor. She tied for first in the Super Stakes non-pro division title race in 2010 aboard a horse named Arc Catmando.
In the non-pro division, Cade Shepard of Summerdale, Ala., and a mare named Twistful Thinking clinched the title with a score of 217.5. Shepard is a 13-year-old, home-schooled seventh-grader, and he is believed to be the youngest competitor to win a non-pro title at a major NCHA event in Fort Worth.
Shepard’s father, Austin, is a successful rider in open division competition. He tied for first at the Super Stakes in 2008 aboard High Brow CD.
After winning the title, Cade Shepard praised Twistful Thinking for her athleticism.
“She’s really quick,” Shepard said. “She’s faster than most of the cows in there.”