Nellie Miller

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Greg Westfall

Miller Returns to Wrangler NFR with an Opening Night Victory

By Amy Wilson

It’s Round 1 at the Wrangler NFR and a new record is in the books. Nellie Miller rode Rafter W Minnie Reba, known as “Sister” to a time of 13.64 seconds to win the round and set the Round 1 record time. “It’s so great,” said the Cottonwood, Calif., cowgirl who also qualified for the Wrangler NFR in 2010. “The time before I had never won a round, so this is my first round win and it feels so good.”

Her 9-year old blue roan mare is the 2017 WPRA/AQHA Barrel Horse of the Year, and was also named the WPRA Horse with the Most Heart, an award voted on by the Top 15 WPRA barrel racers. “She’s just a great horse, and she is so confident and honest and just willing to work for you every time,” Miller said about the ranch-raised mare who was trained by her dad, Sam. “My dad ranched on her and doctored calves in the field, then roped on her, branded, and all that stuff so whatever she does, she does it good.”

Sister definitely runs barrels in the Thomas and Mack “good”. Miller described her run as smooth, and said, “She went in there and just worked. She’s such a smooth turner that it feels great to ride her.” Miller also said that she mentally prepares by doing what she’s done all year long, which is to think about the great runs she had and try to duplicate them.

Thanks to the win, Miller said her two little girls will be excited about the Montana Silversmiths buckle she won, “They like it when I bring home trophies and they like all the prizes. They get pretty excited about it.” And, Miller gets to be excited about adding $26,231 to her earnings.

Taking second place with a time of 13.68 was Kassie Mowry. Third place was Hailey Kinsel, who also rides a horse named Sister. They were 13.69 seconds. Fourth and $11,000 richer is Kathy Grimes, who had a time of 13.85 seconds. Tiller Murray ran a 13.89 to place fifth at her first WNFR. Ivy Conrado rode the pretty palomino, J Lo, to a time of 13.90 and a sixth place finish.

No. 1 ranked Tiany Schuster finished the night in ninth with a time of 14.07 while No. 2 Stevi Hillman had a costly barrel penalty and finished with a 18.68.

Catch second round action on CBS Sports Network on Dec. 8.