Galyean has a tough act to follow

Austin Shepard made his own history at the 2008 Augusta Futurity.


The Alabama native, aboard High Brow CD, became just the second cutter to win the National Cutting Horse Association World Championship and then go on to capture the Augusta Futurity Open finals.

Shepard and his mount claimed a 2.5-point win to join Tag Rice and Chiquita Pistol, who won the 2002 NCHA Futurity before winning in Augusta.

"That's a pretty big honor," Shepard said.

"That horse, I don't think it really matters where we go. He's been pretty good to me."

Now, it's Beau Galyean's turn to try pull to off the feat in the 30th annual Augusta Futurity at James Brown Arena. Galyean and Metallic Cat won December's NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas. The pair marked 222 to best the field by four points.

If Galyean and his horse make it through the go-rounds, they'll go for their second title in two months in the Augusta Futurity Open finals. But first, there's other competition.

The Classic Open first go-round begins at 8 a.m. today. The $100,000 Amateur 5/6-Year-Old finals follow the go-round and will be followed by the $20,000 Non-Pro finals.

The Futurity Open first go-round begins Monday afternoon after the completion of the Classic Open second go-round. The Classic Open and Non-Pro finals will be held Thursday evening, starting at 7.

Before then, the general public can mix in with cowboys and cowgirls at the annual Augusta Futurity Dance at 8 p.m. Wednesday at The Country Club on Washington Road.

For those interested in western attire, vendors will line both levels of James Brown Arena as well as the adjacent Bell Auditorium.

Mark down Friday night as the can't miss evening of the show. The inaugural Champions Challenge will begin at 7 p.m. The event will feature 48 past champions -- 24 in the Open and 24 in the Non-Pro. The show has invited every past champion, show manager Pete May said.

"We think that may be our best event," he said.

Of course, the crown jewel of the show is the Augusta Futurity Open finals, and the Futurity Non-Pro finals precede it. The opening ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. for Saturday's finale.

The main question is: who will win the Futurity Open finals? Will it be all-time Augusta champion Phil Rapp, seeking to add to his eight titles? Will it be Rice, who is tied with Faron Hightower with five Augusta championships? Rice has won all of his titles since 2003.

Or will Galyean win in Augusta and add to his family's legacy? His father, Jody, is a two-time Augusta Futurity Open champion.

The younger Galyean has the horse. This week, cutting fans will see if the pair can make history.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or



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