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☛ NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman & Celebration of Champions 2-19-18



By Glory Ann Kurtz
Feb. 19, 2018

The World’s Greatest Crowd. Photo by Rick Dennis

The spectators at the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s (NRCHA) World’s Greatest Horseman event not only packed the seats of the John Justin Arena, in the Will Rogers Complex in Fort Worth, the night of Saturday, Feb. 17, but the crowd was also four-deep standing behind the seats. They swarmed the event consisting of the top10 of the 50 entries vying to become the “World’s Greatest Horseman” and take home the Finals first-place $40,000 paycheck of the $150,500 total purse.

Counting the go-round payouts, the event paid out a total of $162,000. The event was held the final day of the annual NRCHA Celebration of Champions that took place in the Will Rogers Coliseum and the John Justin arena for nine days – Feb. 9-17.

After the 10 bridle horses, including six stallions and four geldings, had competed in four events, including herd work, rein work, steer stopping and cow work, in front of a full-house of screaming cow-horse lovers, Hickory Holly Time, an 8-year-old stallion, ridden by Kelby Phillips, Scottsdale, Ariz., and owned by DT Horses LLC, Bend, Ore., took home the coveted title. Ironically, the pair had finished 8th out of the top 10 going to the finals, with an 863.5.

Hickory Holly Time shown at the South Point. Primo Photo

Hickory Holly Time, who was the 2015 NRCHA Open Hackamore World Champion and Open Stakes Reserve Champion as well as the  2014 Open Derby Champion and 2013 Intermediate Open Futurity Champion, had just increased his earnings to $231,025. The pair competed in last year’s event; however, they didn’t make the finals.

But this must have been Kelby’s lucky day as the pair also won the Open Composite of the 102-entry NRCHA Celebration of Champions held at the Will Rogers Coliseum during the week. Phillips rode Duals Lucky Charm (Dual Smart Rey x TRR Ms Pepcid Olena) owned by Mike and Robyn Stewart to a whopping 444.5 total score, taking home $22,638.69 in the composite. He also won the Rein work for $1,323.90, finished 4th in the Herd Work for $661.95, tied for 4th in the Cow work for $220.65, giving Kelby’s total paychecks for his horses for the week of in the Celebration of Champions was $24,845.19. Add that to his $40,000 win in the Worlds Greatest Horseman, gives Kelby a $64,845.19.

Hickory Holly Time is sired by One Time Pepto, the sire with the most finalists at three, and out of Hickorys Holly Cee by Doc’s Hickory. On his dam’s side, Hickory Holly Cee is out of Miss Cee Nita by Peponita.

The pair scored a total of 890.5 points, including a second for a 220 in the Herd Work, that was won by Cal Me Mitch, a Metallic Cat stallion ridden by Philip Ralls, Paso Robles, Calif., and owned by Estelle Roitblat, Templeton, Calif.; a  second with a 222.5 score in the Rein work, that was won by LenaLilToTheWright, a gelding by Lena Wright On ridden by Randy Paul and owned by Linda Katz, Agoura Hills, Calif.; the winner in the Steer Work with a 224.5 and finishing in a tie for second and third in the Cow Work with a 223.5. That division was won by Call Me Mitch, who was the runner-up to the event’s champion with a total score of 888.

Call Me Mitch won a total of  $28,250, receiving $25,00 for second in the finals, $1,500 for winning the Herd Work and $750 for second in the Rein work and $1,000 for second in the steer work. The pair won the preliminaries of the competition with a total score of 887.5. His paycheck brought him close to the $1 million mark in total lifetime earnings with the NRCHA.

Third place went to Lena Buddy Nic, a loud-colored tobiano, crowd-pleasing Paint gelding sired by Nic It In The Bud out of Dual Lena, owned by Bitterroot Springs Ranch, Ross, Calif., and ridden by Jake Telford. The pair took home $18,000 for third place.

The fourth-place horse, Blind Sided, a stallion by Peptoboonsmal out of Lil Miss Shiney Chex, owned by the Aaron Ranch, Commerce, Texas, ridden by Jay McLaughlin, took home a total of $16,250, that included $15,000 for fourth place, $500 for third in the Herd work and 4750 for third in the rein work.

The 7th place in the finals was Smooth N Cash, ,a gelding by by Smooth As A Cat out of Dox Gavash, owned by the Roloff Ranch, Temecula, Calif. The program and results show the rider as Jake D. Gorrell; however, it was announced that Gorrell had gotten hurt earlier and Russell Dilday did the riding duties in the Worlds Greatest Horseman Finals.

Unfortunately, One Fine Vintage, a stallion by One Time Pepto, ridden by Corey Cushing and owned by the Robertson Ranches, Plymouth, Calif., who finished second in the preliminaries with an 886 total score, including a win in the Rein Work with a 222.5 and a win in the Steer work with a 226.5 and tied for 6th in the Cow Work with a 219.5, finished last in the Finals, after receiving zeros in the cow and steer work.

The judges for the Worlds Greatest Horseman were Ron Emmons, Smokey Pritchett, Doug Ingersoll, Tom Buckingham, Bobby Hunt.  Bill Enk was Director of Judges..



With 102 entries, the Celebration of Champions Open Division had three events: Herd, Rein and Cow. Kelby Phillips won the event riding Duals Lucky Charm (Dual Smart Rey x TRR Ms Pepcid Olena) owned by Mike and Robyn Stewart.

The pair scored  a 147, good enough for 4th in the Herd work, earning an additional $661.95. They won the Rein Work with a 149.5 score and a $1,323.90 paycheck and tied for 4th place (5 ways) with a 148 in the Cow Work, taking  home $220.65 for a grand total of $24,845.19. That paycheck, along with his $40,000 from the Worlds Greatest Horseman, gave him $64,845.19 from the show.

The Reserve Champion of the Celebration of Champions was Justin Wright riding Shiners Diamond Cat, taking home $16,681.14 plus $1,323.90 for winning the Herd Work and $992.93 for tying for second in the cow work, for a total of $18,997.97.

For full results, go to



Clayton Edsell must have been the busiest man entered in the Celebration of Champions and in the ballpark with the highest money earners of the entire show, with total earnings on four horses in the Open, Intermediate Open and Novice Horse divisions of $53,953.50.

In the Open Division, Edsell rode Bet He Sparks to third place, taking home $13,702.36 in composite, $772.28 for 2/4 in the reined work and $992.93 for 2/3 in the cow work, for a total of $15,467.57.

He also rode Metallic Train in the Open to a 4/5 split in the composite , earning $10,425.71 plus $1,323.90 for winning the cow work for a total of $11,749.61. He also finished in a tie for 9/10 riding Shining CD Light for an additional $3,574.53. Also, in the go-rounds, he split 5/6 in the Herd Work riding Malibu Barbie for $220.65 – totaling $31,012.36 in the Open Division.

In the Intermediate Open, Edsell won a total of $19,882.40. Riding Bet He Sparks, he won the composite, taking home $7,281.45, split first place split fin reined work for $370.82 and finished second in the cow work for $337.10 – totaling $7,989.37.

He also rode Metallic Train to second in the composite for a $5,461.09, 3rd in the Reined work for $269.68 and won the cow work for $404.53 – for a total of $6,135.30.

Aboard Shining CD Light, he finished 4th in the composite for $3,640.72 and tied for 4th in the Herd work for $84.28 for a $3,725 total. He also rode Malibu Barbie to 7/8 split in the Intermediate Open composite for $1,729.34 plus a tie for second in the herd work for $303.39, totaling $2,032.73.

In the Novice Horse class, he won an additional $3,058.74 riding Shining CD Light to a first-place tie, 4th in rein work, 3rd in the Herd work and 4th in the cow work.



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