After winning the biggest prize on the cutting circuit last month, Craig Thompson came to Augusta and threw down the gauntlet.
Riding Oh Cay Do Over and Lach Down, Thompson posted two of the top eight scores in the Futurity Open go-round Tuesday at James Brown Arena.
The top 24 horses with scores of 213.5 or better advanced to Saturday night’s finals. Lee Francois and Sigala Rey won the go-round with 220, while Lloyd Cox and Salvador Cabrel each advanced all four of their horses to the championship round.
Thompson finished the go-round one point back with 219 aboard Oh Cay Do Over. Thompson and Lach Down later marked 217.
“It’s been a tough cutting as always with the competition,” he said. “We’ve been drawing up really deep. So we’ve been having to really watch and pay attention to the cattle.”
The 41-year-old Thompson lives in Buffalo, Texas, with his wife, Sasha, and their two sons, Chase, 11, and Catch, 7. Thompson brought seven horses with him to the Augusta Futurity, but the one he left home was Oh Miss Caroline. The pair marked 226 to win the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Open Championship in December in Fort Worth.
“She’s sound and healthy,” he said. “We just decided to give her a break. She had a long show.”
Thompson did just fine with his other horses in the Futurity Open go-round. Oh Cay Do Over, a mare by Smooth As A Cat out of Oh Cay Shorty, is owned by Patrick and Laura Collins.
“She gave 110 percent. She tried as hard as she ever has for me today,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t a run that gave you a lot of confidence as you went through it. But she tried. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done.”
On Lach Down, a gelding by Chula Dual out of Oh Cay Shorty and also owned by the Collins family, Thompson got off to a slow start, but he and his horse were able to make a late rally.
“We were able to pull it together on the second and third cows,” Thompson said. “I didn’t do a very good job setting him up on that first cow. We got a little bit out of whack, and he wasn’t quite as accurate as I needed him to be. But he finished strong.”