By Jolee Jordan
Houston, Texas — Two weeks ago there were 40. After fifteen nights of rodeo action, now only 20 ladies remain standing at RodeoHouston.
One of just a few tournament style rodeos on the pro rodeo schedule, Houston begins with 40 contestants, dividing them evenly into five Super Series rodeos, each comprised of three go rounds. Each round is sudden death and the top four money winners from each Super Series advance to the Semi-Finals.
The final spots in the next round were awarded following the Super Series V Championship Round on March 21. The final set of preliminary competition kicked off Sunday, March 19 when two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) qualifier Carley Richardson won the first round aboard her great horse Radio. The pair stopped the clock at 14.33 seconds for the win and $3,000. Richardson was in the final four here a year ago, winning more than $16,000.
Former WPRA Rookie of the Year Sydni Blanchard finished just out of the money in the opening round but came roaring back in round two with a blistering run of 13.95 seconds on her horse Famous Heartbreaker.
The run is the fastest of this year’s rodeo and just three one-hundredths of a second off the arena record of 13.92 held by Carlee Pierce (2012) and Kaley Bass (2015).
A qualifier to the WNFR in 2010 and 2013, Blanchard posted on social media: “Leave it to Famous Heartbreaker to pick up six tenths at RodeoHouston for the fastest run of the rodeo! 13.95, whoop, whoop!”
Meanwhile, Nellie Miller and her mare Sister took second in both opening rounds to lead the way into the final night of the Super Series competition, just ahead of Richardson and Blanchard.
Miller’s mare continued to impress in her first trip to RodeoHouston, staying consistent in round three for a third check.
However, Blanchard and her seven year old sorrel mare—who is also competing in her first RodeoHouston—stole the headlines again, taking another victory lap with a run of 14.09. Their total earnings of $6,000 were tops in the Super Series, landing them another run on Wednesday night in the first night of Semi-Final action.
Miller finished second with $5,000 while Richardson and reigning Canadian Champ Nancy Csabay ended third and fourth with $3,750 and $2,750 respectively. Csabay punched her ticket with a clutch second place finish in round three.
All three ladies will continue to compete here as the semi-finals begin this week.
The Semi-Finals begin on Wednesday, March 22. The four fastest from each set advance to the Championships on Saturday while the other six will get a final shot on Friday in the Wild Card round. On Saturday, the Championship begins with one round for the ten finalists; the four fastest from that round will earn a spot in the Shootout held later that same performance.
The Shootout is one run, sudden death for the title. The winner earns $50,000.
Three of the four Shootout contestants from a year ago are back in the Semi-Finals in 2017: Brenda Mays, Carley Richardson and Rachel Dice. One former RodeoHouston champ is still standing—Sherry Cervi, the WPRA’s only $3 million cowgirl who has four Houston titles to her resume.
Super Series V
1. Carley Richardson, Doda Flit, 14.33, $3,000
2. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 14.44, $2,000
3. Benette Little, Ms. Carrie Lou, 14.48, $1,000
4. Nancy Csabay, Little Miss Wicked, 14.51, $750
1. Sydni Blanchard, Famous Heartbreaker, 13.95, $3,000
2. Miller, 14.08, $2,000
3. Lisa Lockhart, Rosas Cantina CC, 14.21, $1,000
4. Richardson, 14.27, $750
1. Blanchard, 14.09, $3,000
2. Csabay, 14.21, $2,000
3. Miller, 14.32, $1,000
4. Lockhart, 14.33, $750
Total Money Won
*Advance to Semi-Finals
Semi-Finals 1, March 22
Name, Money Won, Super Series
Blanchard, $6,000, SSV
Ivy Conrado, $6,000, SSIV
Kathy Grimes, $6,000, SSI
Kelly Tovar, $5,000, SSII
Miller, $5,000, SSV
Taylor Langdon, $4,000, SSI
Tiany Schuster, $3,000, SSII
Britta Thiel, $3,000, SSII
Pam Capper, $3,000, SSIII
Rachel Dice, $2,000, SSIV
Semi-Finals 2, March 23 (Super Series)
Kassie Mowry, $7,000, SSIV
Stevi Hillman, $6,000, SSIII
Sami Bessert, $6,000, SSI
Jana Bean, $3,750, SSIII
Richardson, $3,750, SSV
Cassidy Kruse, $3,000, SSII
Brenda Mays, $3,000, SSIII
Sherry Cervi, $3,000, SSIV
Csabay, $2,750, SSV
Kellie Collier, $2,500, SSI
Courtesy of WPRA