The National Reined Cow Horse Association unveils changes expected to boost participation and payouts at its 2014 premier events.

National Reined Cow Horse Association
September 23, 2013

Fancy Boons N All and Kelby Phillips, photo courtesy of NRCHA

The 2013 NRCHA Derby limited open champion, Fancy Boons N All, shown by Kelby Phillips for Gardiner Quarter Horses, would have run at more than double the purse if the single-entry fee had been in effect. (Photo courtesy of NRCHA)

A substantial restructuring of the entry-fee system and eligibility requirements for open riders at for National Reined Cow Horse Association premier limited-age events will take effect in the 2014 show season. The changes, passed by the NRCHA board of directors, are expected to boost participation and payouts at the 2014 NRCHA premier limited-age events.
The top 20 open-division riders (previously the top 30) will not be eligible for the intermediate open division. Riders with less than $35,000 in career limited-age event money (previously $15,000) will be eligible to show in the limited open, and the Level 1 limited open earnings limit has been raised from $7,500 to $15,000.

Also beginning in 2014, open riders will pay a single entry fee, which automatically enters them in every division for which they are eligible.

The fee restructuring applies to the open, intermediate open, limited open and Level 1 limited open divisions, beginning with the 2014 NRCHA Celebration of Champions Derby, NRCHA Stakes, NRCHA Hackamore Classic, NRCHA Derby and NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity.
Previously, limited open and intermediate open riders had been required to also enter the open division at those events, and, as a result, pay a higher entry fee. Under the new, simplified system, all open-division riders will pay the same amount, which is expected to stimulate greater participation by entry-level trainers.
The move also means the Level 1 limited open will no longer be a stand-alone division. It had been set aside for open riders with less than $7,500 in limited-age event earnings, and competitors were permitted to enter the Level 1 without also entering the open. Beginning next year, Level 1 riders will pay a higher fee, but they also will have an opportunity to win four paychecks, since they also will be competing in the limited open, intermediate open and open divisions. Under the new system, the total payout will be divided among the four divisions as follows: 72 percent to the open; 15 percent to the intermediate open; 8 percent to the limited open and 5 percent to the Level 1 limited open.

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NRCHA Treasurer Jerry Peters predicts the new structure will also boost payouts. Peters compared the 2012 Snaffle Bit Futurity entries and payouts based on the old structure and the new structure. Under the old structure, a Level 1 limited open rider paid $4,300 to enter the open, intermediate open, limited open and Level 1 limited open. Under the new structure, that same rider – and all other levels of open riders – will pay $2,850 to get into all divisions for which they are eligible.
The single entry fee system would have increased the payouts in almost all open divisions, according to Peters' calculations. In 2012, the payouts were:

  • Open – $631,400
  • Intermediate open – $125,800
  • Limited open – $37,300
  • Level 1 limited open – $46,900
  • Total – $841,400

If the new single-entry-fee structure had been in effect at last year's Snaffle Bit Futurity, the payouts would have looked like this:

  • Open – $650,151
  • Intermediate open – $135,448    
  • Limited open – $72,239
  • Level 1 limited open – $45,149
  • Total – $902,988  

Peters ran the same comparison on the other NRCHA premier events – the Stakes, Hackamore Classic, Derby and Celebration of Champions Derby – and discovered consistently positive growth.
"The payouts are good for everyone,” he said. “The open is equal to, or a little greater than, compared to the previous entry fee structure. The intermediate open is 10-15 percent higher, the limited open is about double, and the Level 1 varies from the same to doubling. The payouts are better for each division and especially for the limited open.”