Lee Francois and a stallion The Animal gave a clue that he might win the Metallic Cat National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular 4-year-old open division title on Saturday when he turned in the highest score during the semifinal round.
But during a typical semifinal, riders can be somewhat conservative. They often make a run that results in a commendable score that’s just high enough to advance to the final round.
Francois, who is from the small town of Murchison that’s near Athens and Tyler, won the semifinal with an attention-grabbing score of 222. But it was a score that’s usually not high enough to win a final round.
Then during the final round on Sunday night, Francois and The Animal worked three testy cows and clinched the title with a lofty score of 228 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
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“Horses have a way of knowing that it’s finals night,” Francois said. “They feel that adrenaline, too. It’s not like you have to build them up because you’ve been building up from the first go-round. Every go you’re pushing a little bit more and by the time you get here [to the final], they just let it all hang out, they just go. A show horse knows when it’s finals night.”
The stallion’s owners, Richard and Beth Carney of Kemp, earned the $39,231 prize for winning the 4-year-old open title, which is the third jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series.
However, the biggest money winner of the Summer Spectacular was the Ten/27 Ranch that’s based on Denham Springs, La. The ranch earned a $100,000 bonus because their horse, Catillic Reys, finished with the highest score in a promotion called the Metallic Cat Incentive. The $100,000 prize was awarded to a horse whose owners had followed a list of multiple breeding requirements that were affiliated with the high-profile breeding stallion Metallic Cat that’s owned by Fort Worth businessman Bobby Patton.
Catillac Reys, which was sired by Metallic Cat and ridden by Banuelos of Weatherford, won the coveted $100,000 prize after finishing second in the 4-year-old open division title race with a 225.5. Catillac Reys’ owners also pocketed $34,661 as the result of their horse finishing as the reserve champion, which pushed their total earnings at the 2018 Summer Spectacular to $134,611.
In the 4-year-old non-pro finals, a mare named Cinderella Cat, which was ridden by 19-year-old Oklahoma cowgirl Kenli Marvin, clinched the title with a 223. Her father, Tommy Marvin, also competed on the mare in the 4-year-old open division final and finished fourth with a 220.
Cinderella Cat is a paint horse who thrived in a sport that’s mostly dominated by quarter horses.
“I really like to be different,” Kenli Marvin said “So, the fact that it’s on a paint horse makes it a lot more special. I think she wanted to prove them wrong just as I did.”
Marvin said Cinderella Cat is highly determined to excel.
“Her heart is just as big as she is,” Marvin said. “She has a really pretty style. When you watch her move, it’s just pretty. She’s very electric. She’s really smart. There were several times that the cow tried to trick her when I was showing her. But she’s so smart that she wouldn’t let it.”