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Jake Gorell and Plain Catty

Jake Gorell and Plain Catty

Primo Morales photo

FORT WORTH, Texas — They can take the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s World Championship away from the West Coast, but they can’t take the West Coast out of the Snaffle Bit Futurity.

At least not this year, the first ever since the NRCHA moved its signature event for 3-year-olds from Reno, Nev., into the Will Rogers Coliseum. Jake Gorrell of Hanford, from the breadbasket of reined cow horses in Central California, rode Kevin Cantrelle’s Plain Catty (Bet Hesa Cat x Miss Plain Plain) to an exciting Open Championship, using a gutsy fence work to top Zane Davis on Bet Hes Black (Bet Hesa Cat x Soula Jule Forever), owned by C Ranches Inc..

Gorrell’s performance earned the winner’s check of $125,000 and all the trimmings that come with winning the sport’s most prestigious title.

On his quest to this pinnacle, he always has prescribed to taking care of the little things with the hope that one day, the big things would take care of themselves. That’s exactly what happened when he marked a composite score of 657.5 (214.5 herd/218 rein/225 fence) on Plain Catty to top Davis, who scored 654.5.

“I never know what it takes to win it,” said Gorrell. “It’s persistence, consistency and trying to stay in the game. Usually if I can get to the fence work okay – because that’s probably my better event – then I kind of have a shot sometimes.” Gorrell and Plain Catty, nicknamed “Sparky,” had shown in the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Intermediate finals on Thursday, where they tied for third place to earn $12,000. With the hectic schedule, Gorrell let the stallion recuperate on Friday so that he’d be ready for the Open herd work Saturday morning.

“He was a little fresh,” said Gorrell, who’d been expecting Plain Catty to be tired. “He was a little more horse than I thought at first, but then he chilled back down.”
Gorrell and Plain Catty marked a 214.5 in the herd work which was won with a 221 by Myles Brown and Miss Scarlets Cat (Metallic Cat x Bee Miss Scarlet x Lenas Busy Bee).

“I’d hoped to do better, because without having to go make 225’s (in the fence work), you’ve got to be better than a 14,” Gorrell said of his score. “I was kind of bummed about it, but it was all right, so I thought that I’d keep going at it to see how high up the ladder we could get.”

In the reining, which was won by Bet Hes Black and Davis with a 223, Plain Catty used his signature stops and good circles to mark a 218. While that run put them back into contention for the top spot, Gorrell knew that he’d have to score big in the cow work if he wanted the win. But he also knew that trying to force the run wouldn’t work out.

“When the cow came out, he was a lot of cow,” Gorrell said. “He was coming at me and he was not an easy cow to read. I kept trying to settle him down and I was even telling him, ‘easy, easy, settle down’. I never really got the feel on him like I would on a normal cow, but I wasn’t going to get it so I thought, ‘let’s go, let’s see what happens’ and man, he took the turns on the fence great.”

After the first turn, Gorrell knew he had a shot at getting a big score but then, after his second turn, he questioned if he should make another one or go circle.

“I had a bit of hesitation and then I thought, ‘screw it, let’s just go’,” said Gorrell who went on to mark the highest cow work score of the night, a 225. “I turned him loose, and it worked.”

Plain Catty (Bet Hesa Cat x Miss Plain Plain x Just Plain Colonel) was ridden throughout his 2-year-old year by Mark Luis. He was put through last year’s NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Sale but was then taken home again by his breeder/owner Kevin Cantrelle. The colt went to Gorrell after that.

“He’s a rancher, he’s a horseman, he’s got a really good eye for a horse and he’s got really good horses,” Gorrell said of Cantrelle. “He’s got a knack at having nice horses. And Mark did an awesome job with this horse. He’s the brokest 2-year-old I’ve ever had, so he was easy. I just kept stepping him up a little bit all the time.”

For Gorrell, who is sponsored by LMF Horse Feeds, Eagle Valley Animal Bedding and Stray Dog Saddles, this win belongs to his wife Sonia, as much as it does him.

“My wife is beautiful and she’s wonderful. She’s worked her butt off here for me this last couple of days. It’s been a chaotic three years for us, personally and business-wise. We put our heads down and struggled through it, and this will give us a little relief.”

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