By Neal Reid
World Standings Leader Kinsel Breaks Through
for First Go-Round Win of 2019 Finals
LAS VEGAS – Memo to the barrel racing world: Hailey Kinsel is heating up.
The reigning WPRA World Champion and her prized palomino mare, Sister, continued their warming trend at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo by winning Round 7 in front of 16,786 at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday night. Kinsel and Sister crossed the stripe in 13.60 seconds, .12 of a second faster than runner-up Jessica Routier to earn their first go-round win of the $10 million rodeo and earn a check for the fourth consecutive night.
“Oh, it feels really good,” said the 25-year-old cowgirl from Cotulla, Texas. “It’s nice to move up the dirt again. I kind of used my mulligan earlier when I had my first good ground draw, so I was glad to move back up and have a really good shot at it tonight. My horse has been trying hard, so I was glad to give her a good shot at it.”
Kinsel passed Emily Miller for the world standings lead after earning a fourth-place check in Round 6 and put more distance between herself and the rest of the barrel racing field thanks to the $26,231 winner’s check. Kinsel leads the way with $236,713 and is sixth in the Wrangler NFR average, while Amberleigh Moore is second at $207,982, but slipped to 12th in the average after downing her third barrel of the rodeo in Round 7.
Miller is third with $196,991 and is second in the average, while 2017 World Champion Nellie Miller is fourth in the standings with $193,168 after tying for third on Wednesday night. Ivy Conrado-Saebens finished fifth in Round 7 to unseat Emily Miller from the Wrangler NFR average lead and now leads the way with a seven-run total time of 96.88 seconds to Miller’s 96.95.
Despite knocking over a barrel, Moore remained atop the Wrangler NFR’s RAM Top Gun Award standings with $114,923, just more than $4,000 ahead of bareback rider Clayton Biglow.
Kinsel said Sister is heating up at just the right time.
“Yeah, she’s loving it,” Kinsel said of her talented 8-year-old horse. “I wanted her to peak around this time of the week instead of early on and then have her get to where she wasn’t feeling good later on. She feels really strong, and she’s feeling better and better every night. That works for me.”
The worst part of Kinsel’s night came at the end of her victory lap, when she banged her left knee against the chute gate on her way out of the arena. She had to be carried to her television interview with CBS Sports Network and stopped by the Justin SportsMedicine Room on her way to talk to media in the Wrangler NFR Press Room.
“The victory lap horse kind of cut the corner a little quick, and I was probably too excited and wasn’t paying attention,” said Kinsel, who now has won nine rounds in Las Vegas the last three years. “I’ll be all right.”
Bruised knee or not, Kinsel will ride into Round 8 confident and ready to go for another big check as she chases her second straight gold buckle.
“Oh, it’s really exciting,” she said. “Every little bit helps, and more than anything, (Sister) worked really honest and tried really hard. She was really firing, and that makes me excited to make three more runs.”