Prime Time to Shine for Martin Larcombe

Martin Larcombe and Shines Like Spook took the Prime Time Open victory with a score of 221.5.

By Kaycie Timm; Photos by Waltenberry

Martin Larcombe and Shines Like Spook at the 2019 NRHA Futurity
Shines Like Spook’s success at the 2019 NRHA Futurity pushed owner Rosanne Sternberg past the NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner milestone.

When you cross two NRHA Hall of Fame inductees—NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook and NRHA Million Dollar Dam Ebony Shines—the result is destined for greatness. So when Shines Like Spook clinched the Prime Time Open Futurity championship with NRHA Professional Martin Larcombe of Whitesboro, Texas,  in the saddle, he simply proved what owner, breeder, and nominator-—and NRHA Hall of Famer—Rosanne Sternberg already knew to be true: the sorrel colt was born to be a champion. 

“He’s very royally bred,” Larcombe agreed. “When Rosanne told me in April that she had a Smart Spook and Ebony Shines baby, it didn’t take very much convincing to get me to give him a try.”

Historically, that cross has resulted in 11 money-earning offspring to date, including 2014 NRHA L4 Open Futurity Champion Shine N Spook, 2016 NRHA L4 Open Futurity finalist Smart Ebony Spook, and 2017 National Reining Breeders Classic L4 Open fourth-place finisher Smart Shiners Spook. After bringing the newest prospect into his barn, Larcombe debuted Shines Like Spook at the Tulsa Reining Classic, then took him to one other pre-futurity before hauling to Oklahoma City. 

Making the Rounds

In the first round of the NRHA Futurity Open prelims, Larcombe faced what every rider fears when his mount stumbled in the first stop. However, the seasoned professional had confidence that the horse could make up for the mistake. 

“I knew I had to make up some ground, so I really ran him hard in the circles, and he was great,” Larcombe recalled. “He really stayed with me.”

Although Larcombe feels stopping is the horse’s best maneuver, the go-round run revealed his realm of talent includes circling, too.

“He’s got a really cool way of curling up and stopping, but he’s a good circler, too,” he explained. “You can really push him out there, and he comes back. He’s a show horse.”

While the stallion’s small stature might deceive onlookers, his athleticism and heart more than make up what he lacks in size. In fact, his compact stature makes the horse’s stops and circles even more impressive. 

In the open semifinal, Shines Like Spook brought his A-game again, marking a 221 to secure a spot in the L4 Open finals. 

“He really stepped up and played with the big boys,” remarked Larcombe regarding the horse’s performance.

Martin Larcombe and Shines Like Spook with their awards at the 2019 NRHA Futurity
Larcombe and Shines Like Spook took home more than $42,600 in combined earnings from their success in L4–3 and Prime Time Open win.

A Prime Finale

On the final Saturday of the Futurity, the field of 31 contenders in the second section of the open finals included stellar competitors in all divisions—Level 4–1 and Prime Time. Larcombe needed to top a 217.5 to best his own score aboard One Sensationaldream, which held the lead in the Prime Time after the first section of the finals. When he ran into the Jim Norick Coliseum arena for his final run on Shines Like Spook, he knew his horse had what it would take to secure a one-two victory. 

“I didn’t get turned to the right as well as I could have,” Larcombe admitted. “But he was really good everywhere else. He stopped every time, stayed with me in the circles, changed leads really good.”

The judges agreed, and a score of 221.5 earned the pair a 10th place finish in L4 Open and third in L3, in addition to the Prime Time Open championship. To top it off, Shines Like Spook’s earnings, which totaled more than $42,600, pushed Sternberg over the mark to become the second NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner. (Read more about her achievement on page 46.) As the team looks ahead to the horse’s derby years, Sternberg and Larcombe have high hopes for him to stay on top.

“I know he’s got a lot of ability,” Larcombe noted. “I think he’ll mature a little bit more and get a little more solid as a show horse.”