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Working late is Grandview rider’s path to Classic title at NCHA Summer Spectacular

A rider pauses as other contestants warm up their horses prior to the start of the first day of the NCHA 2017 Summer Spectacular at Will Rogers Memorial Complex in Fort Worth, Texas on Monday July 17, 2017.
A rider pauses as other contestants warm up their horses prior to the start of the first day of the NCHA 2017 Summer Spectacular at Will Rogers Memorial Complex in Fort Worth, Texas on Monday July 17, 2017. Special to the Star-Telegram

In a cutting horse final, riders usually don’t like to be among the last in order because the better cattle most likely have been worked.

But Grandview rider Grant Setnicka and a mare named Ichis My Choice defied the odds. The duo were the next to last to work in the second bunch of cattle during the Classic Challenge finals of the National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular on Saturday night at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth.

In the 26-horse finals, they knew what they had to do to win the open division title.

Setnicka and Ichis My Choice, a 5-year-old mare, turned in a whopping score of 229, six points higher than second-place finisher Beau Galyean and Metallic Rebel.

The victory earned the mare’s owners, the J Five Horse Ranch of Weatherford, the $20,484 first prize for 5- and 6-year-old horses who are second-year competitors.

Despite the late draw, Setnicka said there were plenty of great cows available.

“I was pretty deep in the set of cows, but the cool thing about Fort Worth is they put five cows in for each horse, so there are usually plenty of cattle to choose from,” he said. “I was lucky enough to have a few guys [herd helpers] find them for me.”

Ichis My Choice “is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of horses,” Setnicka said. “She’s just a huge athlete. She has a lot of moves. The best thing about this horse is she listens to me all the way up to the point until I’m wrong and then she does it her way.”

Setnicka and Ichis My Choice worked three cows during the 2 1/2 -minute regulation. He said their second cow probably helped them the most.

“Probably my second cow had the most awesome turns,” Setnicka said. “It was a little dirty white, horned cow. My first cow was a pretty good. It was a pick. My second cow was a maybe. The third cow was a maybe, but every other cow we were aiming at kind of left, but I knew that cow was fresh. So, I just took a chance even though it wasn’t one of my favorites, but it ended up being really good.”

Galyean and Metallic Rebel, who were the seventh duo to work in the first bunch, took the lead with their 223. It looked like the score was going to stand until Setnicka and Ichis My Choice made their sizzling run late in the performance.

Setnicka said his strategy was, “Don’t take myself out. Don’t have any major penalties. Don’t mess up a cut. Just let her do it. Sometimes I have a bad habit of trying to force a big score, but the opposite happened. Any one of these horses could have won this cutting. But when it’s your day, it’s your day.”

Pro rodeo update

Rodeo competitors are hitting larger-paying rodeos this weekend in cities such as Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, Wyo., and Salinas, Calif.

The highest paying event is the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games Rodeo in Salt Lake City, which is offering a $946,900 purse. Each event winner during the final performance Monday will receive a $50,000 check.

One cowboy hoping to earn a big check is three-time world tie-down roping champion Tuf Cooper of Weatherford. He advanced to Monday’s Gold Medal Round after winning the first performance Wednesday with a time of 8.5 seconds.

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