High riders

Two riders set themselves apart from the rest of the field last year.

Matt Gaines and Matt Miller added their names to the prestigious "225 Club."

For cutters, a score of 220 is considered above average. A score of 225 or better is a mark of excellence.

In the first 23 years of the Augusta Futurity, judges were reluctant to hand out big scores. Cutters marked just 11 scores of 225 or higher before the 2003 show. In 2003 and 2004, eight scores matched or bettered that number .

No rider was able to reach the 225 mark in 2005. Michelle Hall and Play Stocks, the Futurity Open champions, posted the show's best score with 224.

Last year, Gaines and Miller not only hit the 225 plateau, but they also set records in doing so. Gaines and One Time Pepto recorded the top score of the 2006 show with 229 in the Classic Open finals, the highest score in the event's 22-year history.

Miller and Hokies Cat won the Futurity Non-Pro finals with 225. The pair also marked the 27-year event's highest score.

Five judges rank runs between 60 and 80 points, with half-points being allowed. The final score is reached by dropping the high and low scores and adding the remaining three scores. The highest possible score is 240, and no cutter has come close to touching that total.

Tag Rice and Chiquita Pistol proved their greatness in 2003. The pair stormed to 230.5, breaking Pete Branch's arena record mark of 227 set on Little Badger Dulce in the 1995 Classic Open.

Lindy Burch is the lone woman in the 225 club. On top of Play Peek A Boon, Burch recorded 227 during the 2003 open finals. She is tied for third-highest score in futurity history.

In 2004, Rice and Chiquita Pistol posted 230 in the Western Horseman Cup Open finals. The mark stands as second best in Augusta Futurity history.


229: Matt Gaines' score in the Classic Open finals, the top score of the 2006 Augusta Futurity

225: Matt Miller's score in the Futurity Non-Pro Finals, the highest score ever recorded in the event

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.



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