National Reined Cow Horse Association professional Chris Dawson, Burneyville, Oklahoma, never expected Reys A Shine (Dual Rey-Lil Miss Shiney Chex by Shining Spark) to win a premier event championship at this stage of his career.

“I’m a little bit awestruck! The first time I showed this horse was at the Sun Circuit in Arizona in January. If you’d have told me then that we would be standing here, doing this interview now, I’d have called you a bald-faced liar,” Dawson said, shaking his head and laughing.

The NRCHA Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby in Paso Robles, California, was only the third time the 2011 stallion had been shown, according to his breeder/owner, NRCHA Hall of Fame horsewoman and industry icon, Carol Rose. While “Razor” has talent and pedigree power to spare, circumstances put him far behind his peers in training.

“For 15 months, this horse was tied up in litigation. If it wasn’t for Don Murphy, and a boy I have at home named Guillermo Perez, this championship wouldn’t have happened. Don coached Gio to get him broke. He rode him at least five or six days a week. I chose Chris to continue his training, and thank him so much for the outstanding job,” Rose said.

Although she has raised, ridden and owned countless champions, the victory in Paso Robles thrilled Rose almost beyond words.

“I’m breathless, I’m speechless, and that’s impossible for me! This is amazing. I’m so proud of Chris, and (his wife) Sarah, and all the help Chris has at home,” she said, adding that another very special person, Gabriel Gonzales, also contributed to her horse’s success. Gonzales, who had worked for Rose for nearly three decades, took some time off from his current job to accompany her to Paso Robles and be part of her support team.

“I asked him to put his ‘special touch’ on this horse, and he said, ‘Yes, ma’am!’,” Rose said.

Reys A Shine’s dam, Lil Miss Shiney Chex, was the horse who carried Dawson to his first NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity open finals in 2005. Dawson sees many similarities in mother and son.

“He’s just gotten better every time I showed him. He’s just like his momma like that. It doesn’t matter what he does outside, or how he feels, he’s all business in the show pen,” Dawson said.

He thanked his herd help – Boyd Rice, Kelby Phillips, Phillip Ralls and Ron Ralls – and particularly appreciated his wife, Sarah.

Their 666.5 composite score (219.5 herd/223.5 rein/223.5 cow) earned a $31,408 check, a Bob’s Custom Saddle and Gist buckle from the NRCHA; a pair of boots from Rios of Mercedes; and gift certificates from Platinum Performance and San Juan Ranch.