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NRR Cat King Cole son tops Australian Performance Horse Challenge

DATE POSTED:February 13, 2024

 With the heat and dust on Day 1 giving way to rain on Day 10 as the ‘mini-city’ that amassed Tamworth’s Australian Equine & Livestock Events Center (AELEC) for 10 days disbands, we reflect on what was yet another positive outcome at the Nutrien Classic Campdraft & Sale. Monday night saw the first final, the Prydes Easifeed Australian Performance Horse Challenge with the 10th trophy trailer donated by long term sponsors Peel & Jody Tribe of Navaho Trailers.

It was, excruciatingly close in the end – with the wet work element of runs proving a true leaderboard decider – but it was the quality combination of Leah Read and Lethal King Cole, leaders of the field heading into the final, who claimed victory with a stunning 174 point performance (90 Dry Work, 84 Wet Work). They topped the scoreboard in the performance horse challenge with an Aggregate score of 341.5. 

The young stallion by NRR Cat King Cole, out of Tassas Lethal Spin (by Tassa N Smart) and owned by the Challenge Syndicate (a powerhouse partnership between Peter Shakespeare, Matthew Crane & Leah) was described by Peter Shakespeare as a “legend in the making.” An accurate description for the young sire who was purchased back in 2021 as a 2-year-old colt for $80,000 from breeder Brydie Hughes. 

Prydes Easifeed Champion Rider Title

It was a nervous wait until the last rider in the draw – legendary Ben Hall on Chisums Cash, to determine which team would win the Aggregate and the major cash prize for their chosen charity. Ben and his roan RS Chisum mare put one around for 82 points, enough to bring home the win for the Australian Campdraft Association (ACA) team whose charity of choice is the Common Ground Foundation.

Coverdrive Gelding Incentive

This feature event exhibited the top 15 geldings from the Classic Campdraft, who competed for a total prizepool of over $8,000. 

It was a tightly contested final and in the end, came down to a run-off between Mitchell Hoy on Mick & Lenore Cole’s Saltwater Groova (Saltwater Sonic x Toomba Kelly) and Will Durkin on Bezuma Pastoral’s Stewarts Flight Control (Hazelwood Flight Command x Stewarts Felina). 

However it was the Guyra competitor Mitchell who claimed victory, with another 88 point run guaranteeing the $5,000 winners cheque thanks to Coverdrive Promotions.

campdraft-challengeMitchell Hoy on Saltwater Groova * Photo from Nutrien Equine 4CYTE Charlie Maher Young Guns

There were a phenomenal three scores each of 90 and 91 through the field, but it was a spectacular 92 point run from Fergus Friend, a competitor from Mt Garnett in Queensland, which clinched the title. Riding the family owned Yarrawa Classic (Kneipps Conray x Yarrawa Cadillac), Fergus added to a 90 from Round 1 to claim victory with an Aggregate of 182. 

Fergus and Yarrawa Classic is a Nutrien Classic Sale graduate – having been purchased by Codie and Natalie Law of Yarrawa Stock Horses at the 2019 sale for $15,000. 

Fergus also impressed on his second finalist ride – another Nutrien Classic graduate in Ervines Venus (Kirkbys Stud Contender x Ervines Eclipse), placing fifth. This mare was purchased at the 2020 Nutrien Classic from Craig Ervine & Sue Kirkby, the Tarraway Partnership, for $17,000.

Jimmy Matthews Memorial Ladies Dash for Cash

Another afternoon of Campdraft finals excitement kicked off on Thursday with the Jimmy Matthews Memorial Ladies Dash for Cash, featuring the top lady riders from this weeks events competing for an impressive prizepool. The winner was a popular one, in the Walcha horsewoman Laura McNaughton who rode husband Ben’s Always Again for 89 points.

performance-horseLaura McNaughton and Always Again won the Ladies Dash For Cash * Photo from Nutrien Equine Martins Stock Haulage Open Campdraft

The Martins Stock Haulage Open Campdraft Final was also exciting viewing, with the top five combinations coming into the final with only 3 points between them. It came down to a run-off but reigning champion Will Durkin on Evan & Kim Acton’s talented mare Hazelwood Conspiracy (Hazelwood Conman x Spin N Acres x Acres Destiny) claimed the title with a 91-point run, and a total of 364. Across three rounds, their scores were 92-91-91.

Nutrien Classic Campdraft

The last and most anticipated event of Thursday night was the Nutrien Classic Campdraft Final – the main incentive event.

One of the industry’s best, Mark Buttsworth aboard Hard Currency (Hard Hat Henry x Yulgilbar Bails Cachet x Peptos Stylish Oak) owned by Dave Kennedy of Copabella Quarter Horses, claimed victory with a 91-point run. 

This win is a special one for Dave, who enjoyed watching his gelding compete in both the Classic and Challenge finals – under two jockeys, Mark Buttsworth and his protégé Paxton Pulford. Hard Currency was a sentimental (and surprise) purchase at last year’s sale – Dave claims he did not expect to buy a horse last year. The gelding’s sire, Hard Hat Henry, was owned by Dave and sadly lost prematurely in 2016, and he couldn’t resist taking home one of his progeny to bring back for the 2024 incentive events.

Hard Currency was sold by Dave in this year’s Classic Sale, fetching $40,000 in the sale ring on Thursday morning – one of the highest priced geldings of the day. He heads to the McClymonts of Hughenden, Queensland, to continue his Campdraft career – which is quickly proving illustrious. 

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