By Neal Reid
Reigning World Champ Wins Second Straight Round
to Take Control of 2019 Title Race
LAS VEGAS – This year’s WPRA barrel racing title race is now Hailey Kinsel’s to lose.
The reigning world champion and her prized horse, Sister, clocked the fastest run of the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to win their second consecutive round and serve notice that they’re ready for another gold buckle. Kinsel and Sister stopped the timer in 13.54 seconds to win Round 8 in front of a raucous crowd of 16,892 at the Thomas & Mack Center and add $26,231 to their standings total.
The victory – her 10th career Wrangler NFR go-round triumph – put Kinsel in the driver’s seat to successfully defend her world championship from a year ago. She leads the world standings with $262,944, more than $54,000 clear of second-place Amberleigh Moore, who is 12th in the Wrangler NFR average.
Kinsel was all smiles after their speedy circuit of the cloverleaf pattern and hinted that Sister perhaps could go even faster.
“She’s feeling really, really good,” said Kinsel, who set the arena record of 13.11 seconds on Sister in 2017. “She was a tiny bit tight tonight, and the ground was a little heavier for everybody, so I felt like I had to move her through it a little more. I’m glad we get to get back in the arena in the morning for practice so I can relax her a little bit and get her a little more free.”
Jessica Routier – who finished second to Kinsel in last year’s gold buckle race – was second in Round 8 in 13.57 seconds, with Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi and Wrangler NFR average leader Ivy Conrado-Saebens splitting third with matching 13.73-second runs. Emily Miller – who briefly led the average and world standings earlier in the rodeo – is third in the world standings with $196,991 after finishing out of the money for the fourth consecutive round, but she poses the biggest challenge to Kinsel because of her second-place average ranking.
Kinsel’s victory in the eighth performance moved her from sixth to fifth in the Wrangler NFR average in a round that saw just eight cowgirls leave all three barrels standing. The Cotulla, Texas, barrel racer is looking to keep her momentum going on Friday and Saturday.
“Just to stay in (the driver’s seat) and stay on,” Kinsel said of her goal for the rest of this year’s Finals. “It’s two more runs regardless, and I want them to be two good runs. There’s good money up, and I get one really good spot on the ground tomorrow, so I hope to use that and learn from earlier in the week.
“I’m just going to try and make two good runs and do my best by her.”
Conrado-Saebens leads the average with an eight-run time of 110.61, with Miller second at 110.73. Shali Lord earned her third check in a row after finishing fifth in 13.75 seconds, while Lacinda Rose’s 13.76-second mark earned her a sixth-place check, her third in the last four rounds.
The go-round win also pushed Kinsel’s Wrangler NFR earnings to $114,077, which ranks her fifth in the race for the RAM Top Gun Award behind bareback rider Clayton Biglow ($137,064), bull riders Sage Kimzey ($129,942) and Boudreaux Campbell ($122,327) and her fellow barrel racer Moore ($114,923).
Kinsel still walked with a limp following her win on Thursday night, the result of a knee vs. chute gate at the end of her victory lap in Round 7. She laughed while reporting her injury status and was happy to get a different horse to ride on her parade around the arena after Round 8.
“It’s embarrassing, but it’s fine,” Kinsel said of her knee. “It’s a little sore, but it’ll be fine. I had a different horse, and he was awesome. The old blue roan was great.”