March 8th, 2018
MK Rey Girl and Austin Shepard. Hart Photography
MK Rey Girl and Austin Shepard nailed down the NCHA Eastern National Open championship with 221 points on Thursday. EE Ichi Bar and Zeke Entz claimed the reserve championship with 219 points, and Shepard and Christy Hughes placed third with 218 points.
The Open win represented Shepard’s third 2017 Eastern Nationals championship title and the second aboard his own horse. He won the $25,000 Novice riding 6-year-old Christy Hughes LTE $127,904, owned by Austin and his wife, Stacy, and was reserve champion in the same event on Sir Long Legs, owned by Lew Hall.
Shepard was also notching up a record eighth Open championship at the Eastern Nationals. His past winners were Widows Freckles (2002), Uno Dos Seventyseven (2003), Widows Intentions (3005), Smart Pistolero (2006), Playin At The Mall (2011), Cat Sheree (2015), and Deluxe Checks (2017).
Eight-year-old MK Rey Girl LTE $73,401, by Dual Rey, was purchased by Austin and Stacy from Gale Forces Quarter Horses at the 2017 NCHA Futurity Sales for $35,000. She had earned money in 13 open, novice, and amateur events, including the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Eastern National Championships with trainer Kevin Walden. MK Rey Girl’s dam, Runnin Mate LTE $69,214 has produced 18 earners of $613,800.
EE Ichi Bar and Zeke Entz. Hart Photography.
Eleven-year-old EE Ichi Bar LTE $249,365, by Cat Ichi, is owned by Keith Waid, Gardendale, Ala. The bay gelding made his debute as a 2010 NCHA Futurity Limited Non-Pro finalist with Dianna Helm, who he also carried to win the 2011 Tunica Futurity Limited Non-Pro and to take reserve in the 2011 NCHA Super Stakes Limited Non-Pro and in the 2011 Arbuckle Mountain Limited Non-Pro.
EE Ichi Bar continued his successful career after he was purchased by Jaycee Lowery, who showed him as an amateur and non-pro, and was 2014 NCHA $15,000 Novice Non-Pro World Champion. Josh Dozier and Zeke Entz also showed the gelding in open events, including the 2014 Mercuria NCHA World Finals, where he placed second in the $15,000 Novice with Dozier.