The National Cutting Horse Association World Championship Futurity traditionally begins with the 3-year-old open division first round.
After all, the Futurity is about showcasing the sport’s most promising debuting 3-year-old horses.
The Futurity is our Super Bowl, our National Finals Rodeo. It’s the culmination of what we do all year.
NCHA executive director Jim Bret Campbell
But when the NCHA’s most prestigious show began its 2015 run Tuesday, fans watched some of the world’s top older horses in a competition called the NCHA/Western Bloodstock Showdown in Cowtown.
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Tuesday’s competition featured open division horses ages 4-and-older at the W.R. Watt Arena.
“This is a special edition to the NCHA Futurity that we have brought to Fort Worth to highlight the older horses and the best riders in the world,” NCHA executive director Jim Bret Campbell said.
Campbell said the Futurity provides a great setting to also feature the Showdown in Cowtown.
“The Futurity is our Super Bowl, our National Finals Rodeo,” Campbell said. “It’s the culmination of what we do all year.”
With the Showdown in Cowtown brewing at W.R. Watt Arena with prelim competition over a two-day span, fans will have to wait until Thursday to watch the 3-year-old open division horses compete at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. That will come after the Showdown In Cowtown non-pro division horses compete Wednesday in the first round.
The Showdown in Cowtown open division first round Tuesday drew an accomplished field of horses. According to nchacutting.com, the 74 horses that competed had earned a total of $12,865,761.
John Mitchell of Weatherford and former NCHA Super Stakes open division champion Junie Wood won the first round with a score of 225.
A field of 15 horses advanced to the final round, which is scheduled for Dec. 4 in conjunction with the Careity Celebrity Cutting at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
Horses and riders who turned in a score of at least 221 advanced to the finale.
That mare is a little bit smarter than the average horse. She’s got more grit, more try, more stop.
Former world champion Kobie Wood about his wife’s horse Donas Suen Boon
One high-profile rider who made the cut was former world open division champion Kobie Wood of Stephenville. He earned a finals berth after turning in a 222 aboard a 6-year-old mare named Donas Suen Boon.
“She helped me out a bunch,” he said after the 2 1/2 minute run. “She stopped and turned around when I asked her. She took over pretty good. I didn’t overwork anything and I didn’t underwork. It just all kind of fit.”
Wood said it was the type of solid run he needed.
“It wasn’t the world beater, but it wasn’t the tail loser,” he said. “It was just a great 74 run.”
Donas Suen Boon is owned by Wood’s wife, Paula, who won the 2012 NCHA Futurity non-pro title when the horse was a 3-year-old.
“That mare is a little bit smarter than the average horse,” Kobie Wood said. “She’s got more grit, more try, more stop.”
The 26-day Futurity runs through Dec. 12 and concludes with the 3-year-old open division finals, which is the first jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series. The other two jewels are the April Super Stakes and the July Summer Spectacular. All three jewels are in Fort Worth.