Shepard off to fast start at Augusta Futurity

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Plan to see a lot of Austin Shepard at this week’s Augusta Futurity.

Austin Shepard, on Great Chief, scored 223 to lead the Futurity Classic Open. Shepard also posted 222 aboard Bet Hesa Cat.  DAVE HART/SPECIAL
DAVE HART/SPECIAL
Austin Shepard, on Great Chief, scored 223 to lead the Futurity Classic Open. Shepard also posted 222 aboard Bet Hesa Cat.

The Summerdale, Ala., cowboy brought 32 horses to the show. Already, two of them are off to a fast start.

Shepard posted the top two scores of Monday’s Classic Open go-round aboard Great Chief and Bet Hesa Cat, with 223 and 222, at James Brown Arena. The top 23 horses with scores of 216 or better advanced to Friday night’s finals.

For the first time, Shepard said, Augusta Futurity officials eliminated the second go. Shepard said he enjoys not having to worry about having a possible bobble after a big run.

“There’s always the chance you can come back in the second go-round and lose a cow on one of them,” he said. “It eliminates that worry.”

The 34-year-old is married to Stacy and has two children – 10-year-old Cade and 6-year-old Caylee. He is no stranger to success at the Augusta Futurity, having won the 2007 and 2010 Classic Open finals.

Great Chief is a 5-year-old gelding by Cats Red Feather out of Aristo Rose. Great Chief is owned by Joel Colgrove Sr., and Shepard owns Aristo Rose, a horse he used to ride.

Shepard bought Great Chief as a 2-year-old at the National Cutting Horse Association World Championship Futurity. He trained him, sold him and later got him back last fall.

Shepard and Great Chief made the finals last fall at the Southern Futurity. This is their first
appearance together at a major show.

“He’s a lot of fun,” Shepard said. “Real strong. Real athletic. Big stop. Works real low. Very
nice horse. Very smart about a cow.”

Bet Hesa Cat, owned by the Bet Hesa Cat Syndicate, is a 6-year-old stallion by High Brow Cat out of Bet Yer Blue Boons. Shepard has had Bet Hesa Cat since he was a yearling.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Shepard said. “I fell in love with him when he was a baby. He was a great horse to train. A lot of fun.”

TODAY AT FUTURITY

Go-round of the Futurity Open begins at 8 a.m. at James Brown Arena. Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, a seasonlong points standings, begins with Open and Non-Pro go-rounds. Mercuria finals will be held Thursday night.

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