Riches Make "Delightful" Trip to New Orleans

November 19, 2010

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Gerald Rich is a lifelong horseman, and he trained racehorses for 45 years. For the first 15 years of that span, he conditioned primarily American Quarter Horses, and his runners included Jet Deck Junior, a multiple champion in the late 1960s. Rich spent the remainder of his career training mostly Thoroughbreds. For the past 14 years, he and his wife, equine veterinarian Jacquelyn Rich, have lived in Texas, and they breed and raise Thoroughbreds and American Quarter Horses at their Deer Haven Farm in Lott, south of Waco.

The Riches' horsemanship paid off in July, when Gerald exhibited a filly he bred, GJR Delightful, at the Texas Quarter Horse Association's first Halter Mania competition and earned the title of grand champion. For the performance, the Riches received a free trip to New Orleans to attend tonight's Bank of America Challenge Championships at Fair Grounds Race Course.

“It's nice, really nice,” Gerald said about winning the trip, which marked his return to Fair Grounds, where he trained Thoroughbreds.

Halter Mania was created as a way for consignors of racing-bred yearlings selling in the TQHA Yearling Sale to showcase conformation, which is essential to an equine athlete no matter the discipline, and to present their horses to a wider group of potential buyers. The event was held at the Great Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, on July 20, the day before the start of the two-day TQHA Yearling Sale.

Jacquelyn said she “got all excited” when she learned about Halter Mania.

“I called my halter friends,” she said, “and said I've got to borrow one of these million-dollar halters, you know that cost more than a truck, because Jerry Windham's gonna be there, Jimmy Eller's gonna be there. Every important Quarter Horse man that I've admire all of my life is going to be there with their important horses.”

A flashy halter does not make a halter class winner, however, as the Riches knew quite well. GJR Delightful, a gray daughter of Royal Shake Em, wore a brown leather halter in her show-ring debut and was equal to the task.

“She walked in there, and she said, 'Hello, I'm here,'” Jacquelyn recalled. “And the judges loved her.”

GJR Delightful, who was purchased at the TQHA sale for $14,000 by Jesus Andrade of Mission, Texas, is out of the winning Sovereign Mexicano mare Hickity Delight, who was three when the Riches acquired her from Keith Asmussen. The filly, who is enrolled in the Challenge, is a half sister to Grade 1 winner GJR Snowman. Her full sister GJR Lickety Split competed in a Challenge race at the Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City in 2004.

Back at Deer Haven, the Riches have a weanling full sister to “Delightful” named GJR Miracle, who could participate in the next Halter Mania.

“She's a little racier looking, but just as well-mannered,” Jacquelyn said. “The horses by Royal Shake Em are just wonderful individuals. They're calm-minded, willing to learn, willing to please.”

First post for Friday's 13-race card at Fair Grounds is 5 p.m. Central. For the first time, the Challenge Championships will be featured on Horse Racing TV and available to the channel’s 17 million subscribers, as well as free to view on AQHA’sQ-Racing Video. During the “free weekend,” nonsubscribers will be asked for a valid e-mail address to access the site. Q-Racing Video will be free and open to the world through the evening of Sunday, November 21. BY AMY OWENS