At 5:30 a.m., after riding 100 miles over 16 hours and 12 minutes, 18-year-old Sanoma Blakely, riding RA Ares Bey, a 10 year old Arabian gelding, raced for the win against three-time Tevis winner, Jeremy Reynolds. Over the last six miles, the two leapfrogged over each other into the lead, and in the end she prevailed by only a length. Quite a thrilling finish for such a long race.
For many 18 year olds, riding a 100 miles in a race over rough terrain would probably feel daunting. But for Blakely, riding in the Tevis Cup is a family affair. She started riding in endurance events at age 6 and her first attempts at Tevis came at ages 12 and 14. Unfortunately, both times her horses were spun at one of the many vet stops along the way. Her father has completed five Tevis rides, her mother has 6 Tevis belts, and her brother, Barrak, won the Haggin Cup for the best conditioned horse, at age 15. Goober, as RA Ares Bey is known at home, had completed Tevis four times before. According to an article in The Horse, “Goober” earned his name because of his antics at home, which included opening gates and leading the other horses around by their halters.
Technically her father’s horse, the family picked up the gelding for free after spotting a Craigslist ad eight years ago. That investment certainly paid off!
This year 184 horses started in the Tevis Cup. Ninety eight finished. The 54% completion rate is higher than usual, which some attribute to the cooler weather. As usual, the race was dominated by Arabians. This year 10 mustangs also competed, and there were also two standardbreds, a Fresian/Arab cross, and a mule.