Sam and Austin Shepard, riding Twistful Thinking and Deluxe Checks, respectively, tied with 224 points to claim co-champion titles in the 2017 NCHA 6666 Eastern Nationals Open Finals. It was the first time a father and son team have tied in an NCHA event, and it gave Austin a record seven Eastern Nationals Open championships, as well as his second win during the 2017 event, where he placed first, second and third in the $25,000 Novice division showing Deluxe Checks, Paradox Cat, and Wendels Grace.
Plan Smart Ride Acat, with Josh Dozier, placed third with 222.5 points. The Finals finish was a close mirror to the Open go-round won by Deluxe Checks with 223 points, followed by Twistful Thinking with 222 points and Plan Smart Ride Acat with 221.5.
Deluxe Checks LTE $129,279, by Im Countin Checks, is owned by Amanda and Rhein Standish, Baton Rouge, La. Shown by Amanda, as well as by Shepard, the 6-year-old mare has been an open, non-pro and amateur finalist in 25 major events.
Austin Shepard is an all-time leading rider with more than $6.8 million in official NCHA earnings.
Twistful Thinking LTE $243,587, sired by One Time Pepto and owned by Austin and Stacy Shepard, was trained by Sam Shepard and shown by Austin’s son, Cade, to place second, when Cade had just turned 13, in the 2014 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Limited. Since the NCHA Futurity, Twistful Thinking has carried Cade for 11 non-pro and non-pro limited major championships and helped make him the youngest member ever inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame (in 2016, when he was 15). Austin also recently showed Twistful Thinking to win the 2017 Ike Hamilton 5/6 Open Futurity.
Sam Shepard LTE $2,375,803, who won the 2011 NCHA Eastern Nationals Open on Playin With A Cat, was also a 2017 Eastern Nationals finalist riding Twistful Thinking’s 4-year-old half-brother, Twisted Metal, by Metallic Cat. Shepard, a former NCHA president, is a member of both the NCHA Members Hall of Fame and the Riders Hall of Fame.
Plan Smart Ride Acat LTE $67,046, an 8-year-old mare sired by Hydrive Cat and owned by Jay Vento, North Caldwell, N.J., was also a $25,000 Novice finalist this week, as well as a 2016 Eastern Nationals $15,000 Novice finalist and a 2014 $10,000 Novice finalist. Josh Dozier LTE $591,797 also won the 2013 Eastern Nationals Open championship with Big Bow Pepto.
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