Phil Rapp, the all-time winningest cutter in Augusta Futurity history, competed in just one event in 2012 because of his recovery from back surgery. That was all he needed.
The show almost doubled its amount of entries from the previous year thanks to two things: the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting event and the stallion incentive. And the Mercuria event also brought in Rapp, who left town happy again.
Rapp and Dont Look Twice marked 231 in the Mercuria Open finals, eclipsing the previous show record of 230.5 set by Tag Rice and Chiquita Pistol in 2003. The Weatherford, Texas, cutter added his 12th Augusta Futurity title in the process.
“I’ve just been so fortunate here,” Rapp said. “I guess I’ve gotten used to coming to Augusta over 22 years and I know what to expect.”
A healthy Rapp is expected to return for the full show when the Augusta Futurity, the largest cutting show east of the Mississippi River, officially returns Sunday. The seven-day show is packed full of events and will run through Saturday, Jan. 26.
One unofficial event kicks off the show Saturday, the popular USC Aiken Benefit Bull Riding Championship. The event starts at 8 p.m., and tickets run $17-21 for adults and $9 for children (limited upper level seating).
The biggest competition in the Augusta Futurity is the second annual Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, a second-year event in the Augusta Futurity. 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 go-rounds will be held Wednesday, while the finals take place one night later.
The Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting is making the Augusta Futurity its first stop on its season-long 2013 circuit. The event, which is open to horses of all ages, is expected to bring high scores from competitors like it did last year.
“It was an asset to the Augusta Futurity,” show chairman William S. Morris III said. “It helped us tremendously. It brought more horses and more cutters here.
“I’m delighted we’re having it again.”
On Saturday, Jan. 26, the annual horse sale returns. Also that day, the Wrangler Family Fun Fest, a free event that 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. At 4 p.m., the opening ceremonies will be held before the Futurity Non-Pro and Futurity finals commence. Last year, Craig Thompson and Oh Cay Do Over claimed the Futurity Open title.