For Doug Batchelor, trading three-piece suits for Western attire is an easy transition.
After all, he is the Augusta Futurity lawyer.
"I'd rather be a cowboy," Batchelor said. "But the day job pays the freight."
Batchelor marked a score of 203 on Instant Jazz 297 in the $20,000 Non-Pro go-round in the 25th annual Augusta Futurity on Thursday in the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Chip Bell and Felina Flo posted a 218.5 to win the competition. Fourteen horses marked scores of 212 or better to advance to Saturday's finals.
In his fifth year of Augusta Futurity competition, Batchelor finally made the finals - after last year missing the $20,000 Non-Pro finals by a half-point. Later Thursday afternoon, Batchelor marked a 214.5 to finish tied for ninth and qualify for the $50,000 Amateur Any Age championship flight.
He now has the chance to fulfill his dream of winning a title in his hometown.
"I think about it a lot," he said. "Lightning would have to strike."
Batchelor, 59, works for the law firm of Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Sally. His clients include the Augusta Futurity and Columbia County, to name a few.
When he began working for the futurity, Batchelor's main job was to get the new show legally organized. Since then, he said he does a lot of transaction work. His latest job involved getting contracts prepared for the Western Horseman Cup.
Though he's worked for the cutting horse show since its beginning and was a horse fan himself, Batchelor didn't immediately get hooked on the sport. After he was invited to compete in the futurity's "celebrity" event in the 1990s, his interest peaked.
Batchelor has always been involved with horses. He grew up in Miami showing hunter jumping horses competitively.
After graduating from law school, he moved to Augusta in 1969. As he began his new profession, he had little time for his four-legged friends.
But in 1980, Batchelor received a call from some Aiken polo players who asked if he'd be interested in the sport. He said yes, purchased a ball and a mallet and practiced on his farm.
Batchelor has had success in polo as a member of the winning 1990 and 1992 Aiken Cup teams. He continues to play polo in the spring and fall of each year, but he's also made room for his new love.
Competing in about 12 cutting horse shows a year, Batchelor has worked hard to improve when he's had time. He upgraded horses, purchasing Instant Jazz 297 from Glen Matlock in December 2002. Matlock lost the Augusta Futurity $50,000 Amateur 5/6-Year-Old title in a workoff.
Trainer John Starrak houses the 7-year-old gelding in Hazlehurst, Ga., almost three hours away from Batchelor's Evans home. The long drive hasn't slowed down Batchelor, who's spent every weekend after Thanksgiving at Starrak's farm practicing technique and fundamentals.
"It's exciting to me," Batchelor said. "A lot of people say it's like watching grass grow. But when you get out there with that cow, it's a lot of fun."
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