May 4, 2005 -- The National Reining Breeders Classic celebrated its first event in 1998. Dell Hendricks won that inaugural show and returned this year to Katy, Texas, to take home an unprecedented fifth NRBC Open Championship on April 23, this time riding Hit The Lights (Grays Starlight x Playboys Promise) owned by Adair Reiners LLC.
Dell's title was especially sweet this year for many reasons. Just two days ago, the talented trainer from Tioga, Texas, was honored as the National Reining Horse Association's sixth rider to pass the million-dollar mark. And, at the NRHA Futurity last year, Dell spoke with Doug Adair and decided Hit The Lights should be retired and not shown this year. The 6-year-old stallion had made the finals at every major event that Dell took him to but just never stepped up to win a championship.
"I got home after the Futurity and kind of looked around and I didn't have a lot to show so I just entered him and I didn't tell Doug," Dell said. "So he got his bill for the entry fee and called me and said, 'I thought we retired that horse.' And I said, 'I changed my mind!' I said, 'Doug, if he ever has that trip, he's going to win a major event and it might be this year.'"
Hit The Light's trip was near perfection with a 227.5 in the pattern. He was the 22nd horse to run out of 25 Open finalists in the evening performance and needed a 225.5 to at least tie for Reserve.
"He's awesome and he's been that way for so long and no one's believed in him, including myself," Dell said. With one last chance to prove himself, Hit The Lights entered the arena with full force and showed that he is worthy of a championship title.
Dell's title with Hit The Lights added another $60,000 to the trainer's lifetime earnings. The pair is headed to the NRHA Derby in May in search of another championship.
Scottsdale, Ariz., trainer Matt Mills earned the Intermediate Open Championship aboard Bobbie J. Cook's Easy Otie Whiz (Topsail Whiz x Miss Poco Easy), which also finished ninth in the Open, and then earned a fourth-place Intermediate Open finish with Miss HD Rosalie (Hollywood Dun It x Rosalie Dillon) owned by Steve and Lea Ann Hungate. Matt's NRBC Finals earnings for all three placings totaled $58,742.
Wendy Latimer, of Marietta, Okla., walked away with both the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro titles during the Non Pro Finals competition on April 22. Wendy earned a combined $39,931 for the two titles.
Wendy, who is married to NRHA Million Dollar rider Duane Latimer, just started riding reiners consistently three years ago. Her Non Pro Champion is Diamonds For Chic, a 5-year-old mare by Hickory Chic Olena and out of Sailwin Sally.
Nicole Dryden traveled from Minnesota to compete at her first NRBC and earned the Limited Non Pro Championship aboard Hangin With The Doc, a 6-year-gelding by Hangten Peppy and out of Docs Lady Taylor. The pair marked a 210.5 in the preliminaries and then a 216 for the Championship title and $4,983.
Dr. James Morgan rode his homebred, raised and trained gelding, Hesa Friendly, to a 216 in the Prime Time Non Pro Finals for the win. The pair also tied for sixth in the Non Pro division and took home a total of $10,831.
The NRBC is the most successful stallion incentive program in reining history. In just eight years, the NRBC has grown to include over 275 subscribed stallions and over 16,000 enrolled foals. For information on the NRBC, visit www.nrbc.com or call 580-759-3939.