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Weatherford cowboy clinches fantastic week with NCHA Futurity title aboard Crey Zee

Special to the Star-Telegram

Tatum Rice of Weatherford has won the National Cutting Horse Association’s two most prestigious titles eight days apart.

On Dec. 1, he was crowned as the sport’s open division champion rider at the NCHA World Finals at Fort Worth’s W.R. Watt Arena. He clinched the coveted title on a stallion named Hashtags. The World Finals is the sport’s equivalent of the World Series for weekend warriors.

On Sunday, Rice and a filly named Crey Zee clinched the NCHA World Championship Futurity open division title with a final round score of 222 at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. Crey Zee’s owners, Kevin and Sydney Knight of Weatherford, earned the coveted $183,074 prize.

The Nov. 15-Dec. 9 Futurity was the sport’s most prominent annual show that featured the cutting horse industry’s most promising debuting 3-year-old horses. The Futurity, which is classified as an aged event, traditionally is the first jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series.

When the 2018 Futurity title was at stake, Rice and Crey Zee, who were the first duo to compete during Sunday’s 21-horse finals, turned in the attention grabbing 222. The score held up for the rest of the performance.

Rice, 33, said Crey Zee is a fast, athletic horse with lots of determination.

“She’s named appropriately — she is crazy,” Rice said. “She’s wild. But she wants to be good. She’s incredibly fast and she tries.”

Adan Banuelos, 30, of Granbury and a stallion named Badboonarising, the third duo to compete in the second bunch during the final, finished as the Futurity’s reserve champion with a 221. Badboonarising’s owners, Plantation Farms of Denham Springs, La., earned $161,539 for the runner-up finish.

In an eight-day span, Rice has won the most coveted prize in the NCHA’s two main circuits: the open division title at weekend shows and aged events. The open division is primarily comprised of pro riders who train cutting horses as their livelihood.

“What I would say about it is if you’re on the road as much as we have been, you’re dang sure pretty practiced up,” Rice said of clinching world titles this year on both the weekend and aged event circuits.

On the weekend circuit, most world class horses are older and more seasoned. Historically, most of the world title contenders are horses that are age 7 and older. But Hashtags was an exception. The stallion was a 5-year-old, second-year competitor who was a big hit last year on the NCHA’s aged event circuit, which features horses ages 3-6.

This season, Rice opted to make a run for the open world title on the weekend circuit with Hashtags.

Many of the sport’s top horses on both the aged event and the weekend circuits begin their career at the NCHA Fort Worth Futurity or at a smaller futurity in a community such as Amarillo or Weatherford during the end of their 3-year-old year.

But the NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth is the most prominent of all of the futurities and is the NCHA’s biggest show of the year overall.

The NCHA World Championship Futurity is the first of three Fort Worth-based NCHA Triple Crown shows on the NCHA’s aged event circuit. The other two are the March-April Super Stakes and the July-August Summer Spectacular. All three shows are conducted at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, which is the sport’s equivalent of Major League Baseball’s Old Yankee Stadium.

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