In a field of 10 World's Greatest Horseman finalists that many reined cow horse industry veterans described as the toughest in recent memory, Scottsdale, Arizona, professional Kelby Phillips won the coveted title riding Hickory Holly Time, owned by DT Horses.
Click the player window at right to see complete coverage in the final edition of the NRCHA's Rundown From Cowtown.
After nine days of non stop reined cow horse action in Fort Worth, Texas, the National Reined Cow Horse Association Celebration of Champions wrapped up on Saturday, February 17 with the DT Horses World’s Greatest Horseman Finals in front of a sellout crowd at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
A showdown developed halfway through the very first event, the herd work. Draw five, Kelby Phillips, riding Hickory Holly Time (One Time Pepto x Hickorys Holly Cee x Doc's Hickory), jumped up and marked the high score, a 220. Then, the very next to go, Phillip Ralls and Call Me Mitch (Metallic Cat x Miss Hickory Hill x Doc's Hickory), earned a 220.5.
2018 World's Greatest Horseman Kelby Phillips, riding Hickory Holly Time for owner DT Horses.
These two continued neck-and-neck at the top of the leader board after the second event ,the rein work. Kelby and Hickory Holly Time were first to go, earning a 222.5 from the judges. Then draw two was Phillip Ralls and Call Me Mitch, just a point behind, with a 221.5
The third event, the steer stopping, is notorious for shaking things up but the two leaders continued on a roll. Kelby gained an advantage when he scored 224.5 - but Phillip remained a huge threat with his steer stopping score of 221.
2018 Reserve World's Greatest Horseman Phillip Ralls, riding Call Me Mitch,
owned by Estelle Roitblat.
Going into the fence work, Kelby and Hickory Holly Time had a four-point advantage. They were second in the draw, and earned a 223.5 from the judges. However, Phillip and Call Me Mitch were last to go down the fence and still had a shot. While this team had the high fence work score of the World’s Greatest Finals - a 225 - it was not quite enough to take over the lead. Phillip and Call Me Mitch finish as Reserve - and Kelby Phillips celebrated his first World’s Greatest Horseman Championship.
About the NRCHA Celebration of Champions
The NRCHA Celebration of Champions is three shows rolled into nine days of competition.
Although the calendar says 2018, the World Championship portion of the Celebration of Champions marks the official conclusion of the 2017 show season, by determining World and National Champions in 15 different Open and Non Pro divisions. World Championship qualifiers earned an invitation to compete in Fort Worth by qualifying at NRCHA-approved shows last year. The World Championship contestants will show in a preliminary round, with the top 10 in each division advancing to the clean slate finals for a shot at the title.
Other action at the Celebration of Champions includes the NRCHA Cow Horse Classic Derby for 4- and 5-year-old horses; special National High School Rodeo and Collegiate Invitational cow horse classes; and the crowd-pleasing World's Greatest Horseman, a grueling four-event test of the ultimate cowboy and cow horse, sponsored by NRCHA Corporate Partner DT Horses.
The Celebration of Champions ended Saturday, February 17, 2018. Results can be found at www.NRCHA.com