With numbers up across the board, Augusta Futurity officials are excited about this week’s show.
The addition of the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting event has caused an influx of entries. The futurity has almost doubled its total numbers over 2010 from 283 to 564.
“We’re all smiling,” Augusta Futurity operations manager Sherry Fulmer said. “Augusta is back in the cutting business. The economy still is down, but more people are choosing Augusta.”
The Augusta Futurity is the lone East Coast stop – and one of just nine locations – for the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, a season-long circuit. Competitors in the Open and Non-Pro classes will vie for a share of the $50,000 in added money – $25,000 per class. The top 15 cutters in each division at the end of the season qualify for a four-round competition in the world finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
The event, which is open to horses of all ages, is expected to bring high scores from competitors. The Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting go-rounds will be held Tuesday, with the finals taking place Thursday night, starting at 6:30.
With the addition of the Mercuria event, Futurity Open numbers have increased by 43 over last year to 74. Hall of Fame cutters like Lindy Burch are here for the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting and brought two Futurity Open horses. Also, National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame riders Lloyd Cox, Phil Rapp and Chubby Turner, along with 2010 Augusta Futurity champion Brad Mitchell, are back in Augusta.
“I think that’s had a huge impact on our entries,” said Fulmer, referring to the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting. “We’re pleased to see some of the big names coming back.”
On Wednesday, longtime Augusta Futurity competitor Mel Blount, a Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame defensive back, will hold a clinic at 6 p.m. Blount will hold a cutting demonstration before giving an inspirational speech afterward for area students.
The futurity will hold Augusta Warrior Night on Friday to honor the military. A group of 3,000 retired and active-duty military personnel will be in attendance, along with the Fort Gordon Signal Corps Band.
On Saturday, the annual horse sale returns after a one-year absence. Also on Saturday the Wrangler Family Fun Fest, a free event which features live music and a petting zoo, will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Seventh Street Plaza side of James Brown Arena.