Clint Allen's life will become more demanding soon enough. He didn't need any extra challenges on Sunday afternoon.
The 2004 Augusta Futurity Open champion breezed through the first go-round of the Futurity Open at James Brown Arena with no problems.
Allen marked 217 on Hydrive Cat and Wood I Never and 215 on CD Grateful Dual, easily advancing all three horses to today's second go-round, which begins at 8 a.m. The top 60 horses with scores of 212 or better qualified.
"I feel pretty confident," Allen said. "We'll see how the second go-round goes."
Life is going well for the 33-year-old Allen of Weatherford, Texas. Last month, he and Hydrive Cat finished second in the National Cutting Horse Association World Championship finals in Fort Worth, Texas, earning more than $184,000. On the homefront, he and wife Shayle are expecting twins in July.
"You kind of leave it on the back burner until it gets a little closer," said Allen, who'll learn the gender of his children in two weeks. "I'll get these next few shows and then worry about the children."
Allen and Hydrive Cat, owned by Dave and Georgia Husby, have put together quite a run lately. In addition to their showing in the NHCA World Championship Futurity, the pair finished third earlier this month at the Abilene Spectacular.
Allen began training the horse in January last year. He's been impressed with him all along.
"He's a good horse," he said. "He's one of the best horses I've ever ridden. He's honest. He's smart. He's easy to work with."
In 2004, Allen won the Augusta Futurity Open finals on Aristo Katz, a mare owned by Jack and Susan Waggoner. The pair also finished third in the Classic Open finals last year.
Allen said Hydrive Cat, a stallion by High Brow Cat and out of Ruby Tuesday DNA, is nothing like his previous winner.
"They're two totally different horses," he said. "(Aristo Katz) was fast and wild and extremely smart. (Hydrive Cat) is extremely smart, too. But he has a lot more eye appeal about him. He's slinkier moving. He's a lot more laid back."
On Sunday, Allen and Hydrive Cat rode first in the eighth bunch of horses. It was an unenviable position, but they overcame their bad luck.
"I was a little nervous about being first in the herd, but I went down and just tried to cut clean," Allen said. "We just cut good cows on him."
The cows, Allen said, are the reason for the round's low scores. Shepard's score was 3.5 points lower than the top first go-round score last year.
"I think the cattle are a little tough today," Allen said. "They just don't really take a hold of your horse as you'd like them to."
As good a day as Allen had, it still belonged to Austin Shepard, who rode Ginas Cat to the go-round's top score at 218. For Shepard of Summerdale, Ala., it's his third go-round win (Classic Open first and second go-rounds) in three appearances the past three days.
"So far, it's going the way we want it to go," Shepard said.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.