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A Run For The Riders' Cup

By Kasi Hensley

This year has proven to be a historical marker at that…with the changes of power at the white house all the way to the passing of the torch in the Riders’ Cup standings. 

Let’s begin by first clarifying the purpose of the Riders’ Cup program. The Riders’ Cup program is for licensed trainers in good standing with the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association. There are no additional fees to join the program. 

Trainers’ must then show to earn points. The trainer does not have to win to earn points, just show and retire to the line-up at the end of the class. The number of points that the trainer will receive for competing is determined by first the qualification of the show. Trainers will receive 50 points for participating in a class without receiving a ribbon. Other point totals include 200 for 1st, 190 for 2nd, 180 for 3rd, 170 for 4th, 160 for 5th, 150 for 6th, 140 for 7th, 130 for 8th, 120 for 9th and 110 for 10th. The other qualification of the show is determined by the number of judges the show has (Ex. Single, Double or Triple Point Show).

You can’t discuss the Riders’ Cup standings for 2016 without recognizing Blaise Broccard. Blaise is not only the first woman trainer to top the performance Riders’ Cup standings, she is also the first trainer to lead the pack all season long from beginning her season at the Laurel Charity with a win aboard Skyliner’s Golden Ritz to earn her first 200 points all the way to her final showing with Santana’s Storm at the Tunica Fall Classic. The duo claimed sixth in the Maury County Horseman’s Association Open Show Pleasure class. Bringing her current point tally to 50,320 that she earned by competing in 153 Riders’ Cup classes across the country throughout the season. 

Herbert Derickson has also had some impressive showings this season, to earn his place as reserve in the standings. Derickson currently has 43,220 points from showing in 116 Riders’ Cup classes. 

Between the third and fourth positions, there is an impressive closeness between Jimmy McConnell and Charlie Green, only 100 points separate these two talented trainers. I’m sure we will see some swapping back and forth here over the course of this weekend at the Walking for the Angels show. 

I believe John Allan Callaway has a tight hold on his position at fifth with 1,400 points separating him from sixth place. However, Casey Wright (currently 6th) and Winky Groover (currently 7th) might be a force to be reckoned with. Less than 1,000 points separate this pair. 

Philip Trimble (currently 8th) should feel secure with his standings at 23,740 points. Brad Beard (currently 9th) would have to earn over 2,500 points to tie Trimble. However, where the race to the finish line gets tight again is between Beard and Bill Callaway (currently 10th). This pair only have 170 points dividing them. 

The Pleasure division of the Riders’ Cup Program saw growth by leaps and bounds in 2016. This season added three divisions to the program; Model, Four & Under Lite-Shod and Western Park Pleasure. In divisional sponsorships alone, $7,500 was added to the pot for trainers to ride for points. 
Also with the addition of the above mentioned divisions, the program gave opportunity to trainers to compete for points that normally wouldn’t have.

Jeff Laughlin is currently in the top position in the pleasure ranks. Laughlin earned this right by competing in 60 pleasure Riders’ Cup classes claiming 28,890 points. Laughlin began his hunt with a reserve win with Jazzanova at the National Trainers’ Show. Currently, Laughlin final show was the Tunica Fall Classic with a win aboard Roscoe Jenkins, but I am sure he will be hitting this ring this weekend at the Walking for the Angels show.

There are fairly large margins between 2nd-4th place, but the race gets a little tighter between that of Robert Nelms (5th) with 8,520 points and Crystal Deputy (6th) with 7,920…that’s only 600 points difference. 
It will be very interesting to see how the points race shakes out in the pleasure division in the current 7th-11th places. Brock Tillman is currently in the 7th with 6,390 points with Chris Helton trailing in 8th with 6,110 points…a margin of only 280 points. Then in 9th is Shelli MeHaffey with 5,810 points. Justus Carter, currently in the 10th position with 5,760 points. 

With the 2016 season coming to a close and the final show of the season, Walking for the Angels, slotted for November 11-12 I’m sure you will see all the trainers rushing to the arena to claim their final points. The event will feature 17 Performance and Pleasure Riders’ Cup classes and will also be a double point show.

As you can see, the Riders’ Cup program is not about winning at the shows, it is all about “showing” at the shows. When trainers bring entries to the events that feature Riders’ Cup classes, the shows thrive as well. In return, the charities that the shows represent will be even more successful. 

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