Tillar Murray

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Kenneth Springer

Saving the Best for Last

By Amy Wilson

They saved the best for last in Round 7 at the Wrangler NFR. Tillar Murray and Royal Star Commander ran in position 15 and clocked 13.40 seconds for the win. The crowd inside Thomas and Mack acted surprised by the time, and Murray agreed that the 10 year old gelding can look deceiving. “It was such a fun run. He’s so fast. He’s almost scary fast because several times he’s almost turned underneath me – you have to be prepared,” she said. “Everyone always asks how he clocks that way, and I’m not sure but he’s super fun to ride.”

The 21 year old Texan described part of the process it has been to get to this point, “I got hurt in Sheridan, and then Martha [Wright] had him and was running him, and I had no plans of taking him here. I wasn’t about to get on him in Vegas because that sounded so scary, but she worked with him a lot and he started calming down so I decided to run him here. I ran him at Northside and just exhibitioned him. We had our timing at home – we even set up the NFR arena at home. But when he gets to a rodeo, he’s a little heavier sometimes.” Murray admits she struggled at the beginning of the finals, but in Round 7, it all came together. “I tend to do less and he tends to need more help, so I was really going by my barrels, but finally today I really checked him going to first barrel and he just wrapped it really well. Second barrel I lost some time last night so I was a little sharper tonight.” Then laughing she said, “And third barrel, I knew he was making a good run so I kind of just held on.”

“He exceeded all my expectations and I am so proud of him,” Murray said after their round-winning run. It was even more rewarding because of the hard times they’ve overcome. “Commander and I had a really hard time at first. He’s a big free runner and has a lot of energy and can be really hard to ride, but Erin Ricotti (who used to run Commander) and Martha Wright (my barrel racing coach) have really helped me a lot. They’ve both really been phenomenal.”

Murray’s experience at her first NFR has been busy to say the least since she’s currently finishing school at the University of Texas – Austin this week. “It’s been incredible. It’s such a blur – it’s hard to even describe.” She then elaborated on winning the round, “I can’t believe that I won a go-round. I am just so happy to be here. I’ve wanted to be at the NFR ever since I was a little kid. Just being here is cool. I really had no expectation of winning a round. There is just no way to describe it. It is the coolest feeling.”




Ivy Conrado
Photo by Greg Westfall



In Round 7, Nellie Miller placed second with 13.52 seconds. She is also second in the average and third in the WPRA World Standings. Sydni Blanchard place third in the round with 13.62 seconds. Lisa Lockhart was fourth in the round with 13.63. She’s third in the average and eighth in the world standings. Kassie Mowry collected a check for fifth place with 13.68 seconds. Tiany Schuster was 13.70 seconds to finish sixth in the round. She’s number one in the world and fourth in the average. Hailey Kinsel tipped the third barrel which dropped her to fifth in the average. Kathy Grimes also tipped a barrel and is now eighth in the average.  Ivy Conrado leads the average with 96.07 seconds. Conrado, Miller, Lockhart, and Schuster are the four barrel racers who are clean on all seven runs.




Tiany Schuster
Photo by Kenneth Springer