$25,000 Novice champion Christy Hughes, with Austin Shepard. Hart Photography.
After leading the go-round on Christy Hughes, Austin Shepard came back with the mare to win the $25,000 Novice finals with a 224 at the 6666 Ranch NCHA Eastern Nationals in Jackson, Mississippi on Tuesday. He also took the reserve championship with a 219 on Sir Long Legs.
It was the fourth time Shepard has finished first and second in a Novice division finals at the Eastern Nationals. He did it in the $10,000 Novice in 2012 with Great Chief and Sweet Lil Cat 007; in the $15,000 Novice in 2015 (Cat Sheree and Sweet Little Cats), and last year in the $25,000 Novice (Deluxe Checks and Paradox Cat).
Christy Hughes, was bred by Shepard of Summerdale, Alabama, and his wife, Stacy. She is a 6-year-old mare by Thomas E Hughes out of MH San Tules Dually. Shepard won the NCHA Classic Challenge and was Reserve World Champion with Thomas E Hughes. He and Stacy, earned more than $330,000 with MH San Tules Dually. That mare has produced earners of $706,0o0 including Bamacat, World Champion Stallion of 2015.
The Shepards’ teen-age son, Cade, won Non-Pro championships with Christy Hughes at Augusta and The Ike this year, as well as a Mercuria World Series win at Congress last fall, and the Southern Derby in 2016.
With her latest win, Christy Hughes has earned nearly $130,000. Shepard, a Hall of Fame Rider with $7.5 million in career earnings, was notching up his 14th championship at the NCHA Eastern Nationals, going back to his Open title on Widows Freckles in 2002.
Sir Long Legs with Austin Shepard. Hart Photography.
Reserve champion Sir Long Legs is a 5-year-old owned by Lew Hall of Lakeland, Florida. The son of High Brow Cat was bred by Michelle Cannon out of Lil Lena Long Legs and purchased by Hall for $90,000 at the 2014 Western Bloodstock NCHA Futurity Sales.
Sir Long Legs was reserve champion of the 2016 NCHA Futurity and won the NCHA Derby and Southern Derby last year. He has earned more than $280,000.
Laneys Gotta Player marked 218 with Guy Woods to place third in the $25,000 Novice for Jo Ellard’s EE Ranches of Whitesboro, Texas. Laneys Gotta Player is a 5-year-old son of Lizzys Gotta Player out of Catalaney, a daughter of EE Ranches’ foundation mare and $1.4 million producer Laney Doc.