It's a chance to make history - and earn a sizable paycheck.
Plenty will be on line when the inaugural Western Horseman Cup finals begin at 6 p.m. Thursday night at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. The top 17 Open 4-year-old horses and top 15 Non-Professional riders will compete in the one go-round championship for a share of the $250,000 purse.
Aside from the money, the two winners will have their names inscribed on a three-foot-tall permanent trophy to be held on display in the National Cutting Horse Association headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
"For a serious competitor, the money fades away," Augusta Futurity show manager Pete May said. "It just happens to be there. They seek peer recognition."
Money doesn't hurt, though. The champions will earn the most money awarded in the history of the Augusta Futurity. The Open champion will take home $50,000, the Non-Pro winner $30,000.
With high stakes on the line, the Augusta Futurity wanted to ensure fairness with the competition. So at noon on Wednesday, riders will draw numbered ping-pong balls at the civic center. The cutter with the No. 1 ball doesn't ride first, but instead will be the first rider to decide their position in the draw.
Cutters qualified for a spot in the finals through a season-long race which awarded points at nearly 50 NCHA-sanctioned cutting shows throughout 2003.
May said he expects interest to pick up in the Western Horseman Cup after the first finals are held. Then maybe more cutters will come to Augusta for the 26th show in 2005.
"This is adding a special feature that may bring some cutters here who haven't been before," he said. "We feel if they come here one time, they'll come back."
Western Horseman Finals Qualifiers
1. Chiquita Pistol (horse), Tooter Dorman (owner), Tag Rice (rider)
2. TR Dual Rey, David Plummer, Lloyd Cox
3. Meradas Rockalena, Gary and Kathy Benton, Boyd Rice
4. Play Peek A Boon, Oxbow Ranch, Lindy Burch
5. CD Lights, Motes and Hansma, Winston Hansma
6. MR Jay Bar Cat, Crystal Creek Ranch, Matt Gaines
7. High Style Travalin, Suzanne Rodnin-Silverberg, Gavin Jordan
8. Tapt Twice, Phil and Mary Ann Rapp, Phil Rapp
9. Sun Valley Shorty, James Vangilder, Roger Wagner
10. Boon A Little, Bill and Jill Freeman, Bill Freeman
11. Tess My Grit, Ken and Marcia Hanson, Matt Gaines
12. Sweet Lil Pepto, John and Dana Harrah, Mike Mowery
13. Smooth As A Cat, Tommy Manion, Matt Gaines
14. Cats Merada, Jack and Deborah Furst, John Wold
15. Freckled History, Tom and Jenifer Lyons, Tom Lyons
16. Santana Times Two, Steven Feiner, Jody Galyean
17. Peppy Plays For Cash, Lewie and Janie Wood, Kobie Wood
1. Mary Ann Rapp
2. Scott Ferguson
3. Chad Bushaw
4. Lewie Wood
5. Elizabeth Queen
6. Dustin Adams
7. Greg Coalson
8. Lance Harrel
9. Benjie Neely
10. Skip Queen
11. Carl Gerwein
12. Alisa McCleary
13. Hope Justice
14. Julie McCloud
15. Alycia Bellenfant
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