“He got three really tough cows, and he placed equal fifth in that final, but I couldn’t believe how much he stepped up, how tough he was on a cow. He held those cows so well!” Tracey exclaims. “I think that Gelding final really stepped him up a level, and then to watch him in the Open final, it still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I believe he looked like a cattle dog on cows. He was as good as a good working dog down in the paddock! I’ve never seen a horse watch a cow that hard.”
There were 21 horses and riders in the Open Futurity final, among them two of Yulgilbar Magic Stevie’s paddock mates from his first months of life; Yulgilbar Quarter Horses’ nominations Yulgilbar Made To Roc and Yulgilbar Mister Hashtags. It was a star-studded field, and when Tuff wowed the crowd and the judges to score 224 points he shot to the top of the leaderboard – however, it would be a long wait to see if he could retain the lead with 14 combinations still to show.
“We’d just watched him step up and became a cutting horse. Something just changed, the switch flipped and he was so incredibly cool. But then watching the rest of the field, I almost felt sick thinking, ‘It couldn’t really happen to us, could it?’ My son always tells me, ‘You never believe!’ but I do believe, I always believed deep down he could and would win it, but sometimes if you believe something and it doesn’t happen, it hurts. So I tried to have no expectation, so if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t be upset.”
Victoria’s Lindsay Wheatley came very close to taking the win with Ludacris, however, a tough third cow saw the pair finish with 223.5 points; Yulgilbar Magic Stevie and Todd Graham had held onto their early lead by a 0.5 point margin and it was time to celebrate a magical win. Todd Graham had won his eighth Futurity, and the McClurgs had won their first.
“What a magic journey for us. And his name! We all thought his name was funny when we bought him, but really the name is actually pretty cool because it was like magic. Something magical did happen, I do believe. If your time’s right and it’s meant to be, amazing things can happen. This is something that I’ve dreamt of forever!” Tracey explains.
Tuff is now enjoying a well-deserved holiday back at home in Quipolly with the McClurgs, who are excited about the horse’s future and believe the best years with their prize gelding are still ahead of them.
“Jason will have a chat with Todd and see what he wants to do next. If he wants to, we’re happy to let him show him again at the Futurities in Queensland and Victoria. He’s only just hitting his peak now and he’s sound and he’s no fuss,” says Tracey.
“People ask, ‘Do you think you’ll sell him?’ and I say ‘No! He’s earned his spot in our family and I think he will give us lots of fun. If we look after him and don’t over-show him too much, I think we could have a wonderful little horse that our whole family can enjoy for many years to come. He’s going to have a very nice life!” EQ
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