Originally created 01/22/06

Aldridge holds off husband for title



Let the trash talking begin.

Nicole Aldridge marked 219 to best her husband, Randy, by the slimmest of margins to win the $50,000 Amateur Any Age finals Saturday night at the Augusta Futurity.

"This is awesome," she said. "First trip over, and to have this kind of experience. There's nothing you can compare it to."

Riding Smart Lil Badger, Nicole Aldridge won her first Augusta Futurity title and took home $6,947. Randy Aldridge and Instance placed second at 218.5 for $5,505. Jon Winkelried and I Sho Spensive and Rachel Johnson and Finally Got Smart tied for third (217, $3,581).

"This is great," Nicole said.

"It could've been greater, though," Randy shot back.

Riding 11th in the 13-horse final, Nicole Aldridge began building momentum throughout her run. After cutting two cows, she pulled a third from the pack with 13 seconds remaining.

"It's pretty much a blur," she said. "My help picked out the cows for me. They were looking for that last cow for me to cut and couldn't find it. And he was just standing there waiting for me. We chipped that little sucker out and cut to the buzzer. I was hanging on for dear life."

Randy Aldridge drew last in the bunch, the worst position for a rider since there are few fresh cows to cut. He managed to find two, but ran out of time before he could dip back into the herd for a third cow.

"It's tough drawing up last," he said. "They were all used up. There were just a couple left in there we had a prayer of getting."

When Nicole marked her top score, she went to the back of the pen and encouraged her spouse. He joked that he could've beaten her if he wanted.

"I thought I was going to mark a 220 so I pulled back," he kidded.

"I'd like it a lot better if it was reversed. But if I'm going to get beat, I'd rather get beat by her."

The Aldridges both own Smart Lil Badger, a 5-year-old gelding by Smart Little Lena out of Badger San Doc.

Nicole got the first pick of the horses.

Randy Aldridge said Friday if he did well, Nicole may take Instance from him, too.

The Aldridges drove back to Killen, Ala., through the night, but they plan to return.

Randy is competing in the Futurity Non-Pro later in the week; Nicole is entered in the Classic Non-Pro.

Nicole wouldn't say if she would be bragging all the way to Alabama.

"I might be sleeping," she said. "But I'm on such a high right now, I don't know."