Cade McCutcheon and Super Marioo: 2019 MS Diamonds TX NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity Champions

Cade McCutcheon & Super Marioo Cade McCutcheon & Super Marioo Photo ©IHP

With a total purse worth $932,207, the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Open Futurity Finals closed the ten days of intense, world-class competition featuring top horses and riders from across the globe. Emotions ran high in Oklahoma City’s Jim Norick Arena where records were broken and history — once again — was made.

It's been a 'storybook' year for Cade McCutcheon: The 19-year-old professional not only won the 2019 MS Diamonds TX NRHA Level (L)4 Open Futurity making him the youngest rider in the history of the NRHA Futurity. With a 224.5 score he also took the L3 and L2 Open Championships all aboard Super Marioo (NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya x HA Chic A Tune) owned by Story Book Stables. McCutcheon also tied for L4 reserve honors as well as the L3 and L2 Reserve Championships riding Guns And Dynamite (NRHA Three Million Dollar Sire Gunners Special Nite x Chic Olena Starbuck) for owner Kirstin Booth
McCutcheon turned in his non pro card in January to become an NRHA Professional. Prior to the NRHA Futurity, he had won more than $706,616 in lifetime earnings, not including the $307,500 he won in August at the inaugural Run for a Million event. When the lights went down in the Jim Norick arena in OKC, he unofficially had surpassed the NRHA Million Dollar Rider mark. “I didn’t expect to win it my first time here as a professional, but that’s everyone’s goal,” he said, even though had three shots at finishing in the top spot of the L4 after qualifying Deja Vu With A Gun, Super Marioo, and Guns And Dynamite. He competed first on David Silva’s Deja Vu With A Gun marking a 212.5. Next up was Super Marioo, and the pair scored a 224.5. “I ran in and hit my first stop. I got turned big, and before I loped off, I thought to myself, ‘Just make sure you lope off on the correct lead. Don’t screw it up,’” he recalled. “That horse was there for me the whole way. There are a couple things that could have been better, but overall, what can I say?”
Five horses later, NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider Shawn Flarida entered the arena on the 2018 NRHA Markel Insurance Prospect Sale high seller Shine Colt Shine (Shine Chic Shine x Gunners Miss Oak). With gracefully executed circles and powerful stops, it looked like McCutcheon’s lead could be in jeopardy but when the score was announced, the duo fell just short with a 223.5. In the last set, McCutcheon rode Guns And Dynamite piloting the colt through another great run paid back by the judges with a 223.5 which earned them the L4 Open Co-Reserve Championship as well as the L3 and L2 Reserve Championship. “After my last run I went to the bus and was watching Wisconsin vs. Ohio State and doing my best not to pay attention to what was happening in the show arena. I was just waiting for my mom to call me,” he admitted. His scores held, and he left OKC with a total paycheck worth $341,899, unofficially pushing him to NRHA Million Dollar Rider status.
McCutcheon began riding Super Marioo in early fall when he was purchased from Gunny Mathison by Freddy Brassfield. “I was lucky enough to have Gunny sell me this horse this summer. He did a phenomenal job training him, and I just had to pick him up and do some of my things. Without Gunny, this never would have happened,” he said. “After showing him at the Best of the West Futurity, I received a phone call from Brenda Joyce [owner of Story Book Stables]. She said she wanted to have a horse with me and asked about Super Marioo. She bought him from Brassfield and has been amazing to work with ever since. It’s the first horse I’ve had with her, and I’m really excited for the future, whatever she decides to do. I thank my parents and grandparents for doing whatever it takes to make me as good as I can be. There are hundreds of people who played into this, and I’m lucky I had the right horse to win tonight.”
McCutcheon and Joyce also wore the coveted MS Diamonds TX Futurity Championship Ring! Flarida and Shine Colt Shine pocketed a check for $110,752 for the Level 4 Open Reserve title, with nominator Sally Amabile receiving $5,637. The Shine Chic Shine colt owned by Gaynia Revenberg lived up to the high expectations of being the 2018 Markel Insurance Prospect Sale high seller.

MS Diamonds TX's Oded Fein with Cade McCutcheon wearing the MS Diamonds Tx Championship Ring / Photo ©IHP

Jacob Ballard and Flashin Benjamins Win Level 1 Open Championship

On October 6, Jacob Ballard took Flashin Benjamins into his training program. He was familiar with the horse, who he started as a 2-year-old, but the stallion had spent the last year-and-a-half with Kole Price. The pair only had two months to sync back up before the NRHA Futurity, but Ballard rose to the challenge, and the duo scored a 218 to win the L1 Open, place in the L3 and 2, and earn $52,389. “I’ve dreamed about being in the finals of the [NRHA] Futurity forever, and to pick off the Level 1 was pretty exciting,” said Ballard, who is 26 years old. “I can’t describe it.”
Prior to running pattern 10, Ballard said he knew if he could execute the run-in, stop, and back-up well, everything else would fall into place. The horse didn’t let him down, turning even better under the bright lights than he did in the warm-up arena. “After I loped off [from my turns], I knew that he was locked in and I could go and push him in his circles,” Ballard said. “By the time I got done with my second lead change, I knew I was home free. All I had to do was turn the corner and go stop him. He just killed the ground like he does every time.” Ballard, who apprenticed under Price before going out on his own at the beginning of 2019, said it was a testament to Price’s program that he was able to click with the horse so quickly. Since he only had two months before the NRHA Futurity, he knew he needed to make every ride count. Schooling at his local college gave him a place to practice in a show setting, which he thinks gave him an advantage. Flashin Benjamins (Gunnatrashya x Shiners Hot Flash) was owned by Leann Spurlock at the time of the NRHA Futurity and was nominated by Nicole Miller, who will receive $2,619. Ballard said the horse’s owners have been very involved, which he respected and appreciated. “You can’t get to where I am without having good owners,” he said. “Everyone wants to talk about the horse and other factors, but the owners are a huge part of it.” The stallion may be moving on to new things, as his owners received an offer on him at the NRHA Futurity. Ballard has some other prospects waiting in the wings, but he won’t forget the colt he started and then rode to an NRHA Futurity L1 Open Championship. “I remember stopping him when he first got sliders on, and he stopped really smooth — about 10, 12 feet,” he said. “He has that same effect, only now he does it with 25 feet. He hasn’t changed a whole lot as far as talent goes, just a lot of the buttons are different and more progressed. It’s been a long road of ups and downs, but I’m thankful for all of it. I wasn’t sure it was the best move in January [to go out on my own], but God is on my side as far as the events and people he’s put in my life to get me where I am.” The L1 Reserve Championship was won by Josh Tishman and Lanas Lil Joe (Lil Joe Cash x Elanachics), owned by Steve Carr, won $29,493. Rainbow Ridge Equestrian, nominator of Lanas Lil Joe, received $1,474.

Martin Larcombe Wins Prime Time Open on Shines Like Spook
It didn’t take much convincing when NRHA Hall of Fame Inductee Rosanne Sternberg asked Martin Larcombe to ride Shines Like A Spook. The royally bred colt is by NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook and out of Ebony Shines, NRHA’s first Million Dollar Dam. “Rosanne bred this horse, and owns both the sire and the dam, so this is a pretty good promotion for her brand. You can imagine in April when she said she had this colt that it didn’t take much to get me to try him,” Larcombe said with a laugh. “I’ve taken him to a couple pre-futurities, and he’s been respectable. "I know my horse has a lot of ability and a lot of stop. I think he will mature a little bit more, get a little more solid as a show horse, but here he really stepped up and played with the big boys.” The pair qualified for the L4 and 3 Open Finals, as well as the Prime Time. Their score of 220 them win in the Prime Time.
Sternberg and Larcombe have a long history together. They got to know each other when Larcombe was training reiners in Europe, and the relationship continued when his family moved to the United States. “I thank Rosanne. She’s had horses with me the past few years and has been a great customer. I also thank my crew, which is basically my family,” he said. “I also thank my great customers who support me.” The 2019 edition of the Futurity Rosanne Sternberg unofficially became an NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner becoming the second owner to reach this milestone, following Arcese Quarter Horses that reached the Two Million Dollar mark in 2012.
Larcombe also took Reserve on One Sensationaldream (NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream x Dun Up Sensational), owned by Neylon Performance Horses LLC. The pair marked a 217.5, worth $11,410, with nominator Kathy Bagnell receiving $498.