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Glade Knight screamed out in exuberance, but his timing was awful and he knew it.
When the final horse and rider - Monarcat and Guy Woods - made a costly mistake with 1 minutes left in their run, Knight knew his team had just won the Augusta Futurity Open finals. Knight let out a yell but quickly realized the event wasn't officially over yet.
When the clock finally wound down to zero, Knight and friends unleashed howls of delight. Michelle Hall stood nearby turning more and more red as each second passed.
Winning the top official event in the 26th annual Augusta Futurity is a new experience for Hall.
The native Canadian and her stallion, Play Stocks, scored 224 to win the finals by 4.5 points.
"Isn't that remarkable?" asked Knight, owner of the horse.
Play Stocks is by Playdox out of Bobs Preferred Stock and was born and raised at Knight's Slate River Ranch in Richmond, Va. Hall, the lead trainer there, began training him during the spring of his 2-year-old year.
Hall said the horse began getting stronger two months ago, and it peaked at the right time.
With the victory, the 28-year-old Hall became just the third female cutter to win the Augusta Futurity Open finals. But she wasn't the only rider who made history during the 10-day show.
Two days after his mother-in-law's death, a grief-stricken Faron Hightower gave an inspiring performance atop Just Playin Smart. The two marked 223 in the Classic Open finals for a one-point victory.
Hightower moved into second place by himself in all-time Augusta Futurity wins with five. He trails all-time leader Phil Rapp by two.
Hightower wasn't the only multiple winner. Jim Vangilder and Freckles Royally Doc won the Futurity Non-Pro. Vangilder now owns two Augusta Futurity titles, after winning the 2004 Classic Non-Pro.
Augusta's William S. Morris III also became a multiple winner. Morris, the Augusta Futurity show chairman and chief executive officer of Morris Communications Co., parent company of The Augusta Chronicle, won his first title in 1993, the $50,000 Amateur.
This time, he and Tanqs Freckles marked 217 to win the $50,000 Amateur for 5/6-Year-Olds by a point.
Eddie Flynn and Boon San Kitty won the Western Horseman Cup Open finals, while Jim Langdale and Widows Intentions took the Western Horseman Cup Non-Pro finals.
Other winners include: Greg Coalson and Quejanaisalena in the Classic Non-Pro; Adan Banuelos and Tronas Choice in the $20,000 Non-Pro; Rob Getz and KL Genuine Dually in the $50,000 Amateur for 4-Year-Olds; and Tammy Coyne and Kid Richardson in the $50,000 Amateur Any Age.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.
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