It took Chubby Turner a long time to get his first Augusta Futurity championship, especially placing second in the Futurity Open finals here at the first show in 1980.
The wait was worth it.
The Hall of Fame cutter and Wanna Dual marked 220 to win the Futurity Open finals by 2.5 points late Friday night. With his first Augusta victory, Turner earned a check for $10,000.
“I really enjoy this place,” said Turner, who has judged the show and made several finals through the years. “I’m so elated that I’m able to win here.”
Matt Gaines and Metallic Drifter marked 217.5 to tie for second place with Gabe Reynolds and CR Sister Tuff. They each collected $8,250. Jonathan Rogers and Kitty Kats Pep tied for fourth at 215.5 with Walt Erwin and Kewel Kat, each earning $5,850.
Turner is an NCHA Hall of Fame trainer with more than four decades of experience. Turner, who turns 70 next month, claimed his first Augusta Futurity championship, breaking a six-year run of Futurity Open titles won by either Austin Shepard or Craig Thompson.
Turner bought Wanna Dual, a mare by Dual Rey out of Zacks Fifth Avenue, for his ranch last year from Ty Cole of Idaho. She still needed a bit of training to becoming a champion horse, Turner said.
“She was pretty green in spots,” he said. “It’s been real hard to get here. In the first round here, it felt like she liked this pen. Tonight, she felt real at home with it.”
Turner missed the past few Augusta shows, but he returned this year because of his bosses. He works as the resident trainer for J Five Horse Ranch, which is owned by Constance Jaeggi. Her father, Daniel, is a co-founder of Mercuria Energy Group, which sponsors the Mercuria World Series of Cutting.
“We just wanted to wanted to support the Mercuria cuttings and brought her,” Turner said.
Riding eighth in the first bunch of 11 horses, Turner and Wanna Dual posted the top score of the event.
Shepard of Summerdale, Ala., sought his fifth Futurity Open title. He and Dual Reyish won the NCHA World finals title last month in Fort Worth, Texas, and tied for the top go-round score earlier this week. Running fifth in the second set, the pair began building momentum during their finals run, but an ornery third cow led to a score of 212.
“I just thought I was going to get a nice check out of this deal,” Turner said. “Austin had four horses and they were sure great horses. Several of those guys had great horses. But those cows were just a little blah tonight. It was hard to get hooked up. I just happened to get two that worked. If I would’ve cut a third one, I probably would’ve messed it up.”