“Special” start to the Mercuria NCHA World Series

The 2015 NCHA World Series of Cutting couldn’t have had a better kick off than the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo on Feb 14 and 15. The Open and Non-Pro finals welcomed a packed house as visitors flocked to the stands, many of whom were witnessing cutting for the first time. World renowned rodeo announcer Hadley Barrett joined forces with NCHA World Champion Chubby Turner, to provide commentary throughout the finals.

Matt Gaines drew last on Special Nu Baby, owned by Gary and Shannon Barker, to take the competition by storm with a 230-point run. The 9-year-old mare added $11,094 to the her existing $342,000 record.

“Being last in the bunch, there weren’t a lot of options left,” said Gaines. “I don’t know how good those cattle were. That mare just made them good. She was spot on. The last cow worried me a little bit because it got right up under to start with. I was really proud of her. She stayed really smart and stayed where she needed to.”

Gaines said he’s not sure how much they’ll haul the mare, but that they would like to get her past the $400,000 mark this year.

He added that the finals were one of the best he’s ever experienced as far as an event that caters to the spectators and educates the public about cutting.

“It was awesome,” he said following the finals. “Last night there were a lot of people there who had never been to a cutting. Everyone did a really good job of keeping the crowd going and keeping them informed of what was going on. The Mercurias are a great way to get some great horses in front of people who don’t know much about the sport. It allows us to reach a group of people that otherwise we wouldn’t reach.”

In the Non-Pro, Dan Hansen rode Woody By Lucky, aka “Freak,” to a 221 to win the finals as the first horse out in the set. The win added $8,300 to the gelding’s $681,000 record and Hansen’s $1.6 million in earnings.

“We were fortunate to draw first. The cattle were a little testy later on,” Hansen said following his run. “We cut three that we liked when they settled. That was an advantage going in there first.”

While Hansen said he hasn’t set out to necessarily haul the gelding, which he pointed out is still on “loan” from his wife, Karen. He said is thankful for the opportunities that the World Series of Cutting events are providing for the sport and will support the shows regardless of his own agenda.

“I really love this World Series program and want to thank Mercuria for their sponsorship first off,” he said. “It gives horses this age, past their 6-year-old year, another avenue, and it shows people like the great crowd we had here today that an older horse and older gentleman like myself can still be competitive.”

Hansen said he does set out to try and make the top 15 every year and that as long as his horse is willing, he’ll keep going.

“He still loves it as much as he ever did. He’s currently in the top 10 all-time money earners,” Hansen added. “We’ll keep going and see how it goes.”