Carly Taylor and Diva Deniro Dominate in Denver

Denver, Colorado — One of the pre-eminent annual winter rodeos closed out 16 days of action when the 20th performance of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, Colorado, concluded on the afternoon of Sunday, January 26. It was 2019 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year in barrel racing, Carly Taylor from Andersonville, Tennessee, who emerged as the champion with a dominating performance aboard her 9-year-old mare Diva Deniro to bank $9,133 of the total $600,000 rodeo payout.

Denver’s new tournament-style format whittled the field of 80 WPRA barrel racers down to 24 semi-finalists who competed in the three progressive round performances held on Saturday, January 25. Each of the three rodeo performances on Saturday, at 11 a.m., 3:30 and 8 p.m., featured eight contestants in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The four best from each of those performances advanced to Sunday’s championships.

Taylor drew up in the 11 a.m. semi-finals performance where she posted a 15.49 to finish second behind Texas cowgirl Sissy Winn, whose time of 15.21 topped that set. Taylor returned with determination in the Finals to stop the clock in 14.99 seconds, earning the championship.

Taylor attributes her win to nailing the approach to her first barrel in the Denver Coliseum, where the offset angle of the pattern can pose problems for some horses.

“It took me until the semi-finals to really decide how I needed to approach first,” said Taylor. “I sat there and studied it and decided I needed to try something a little different. I started from the left side of the alley, which sounds like it wouldn’t be what you’d do, but it worked better.”

Taylor says Diva rocked the first barrel leaving it in the Finals and she didn’t know if the barrel was up until she turned the second, but was pleasantly surprised to see it standing.

“After the second barrel everything was just real smooth,” said Taylor. “She was just really running. I knew she’d be fast, but when I saw how fast it was, that was kind of unexpected. It felt amazing.”

Taylor’s traveling partner Abby Phillips, of Marshall, Texas, posted the fastest time of the 19th perf, a 15.07, to make the Finals where she finished fourth.

Taylor purchased Diva five years ago and the two have achieved numerous prestigious wins in that time, including the 2019 Cody Stampede crown and an 18th place ranking in the final 2019 WPRA world standings with $72,300.

Taylor is bound for the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo Wednesday and Thursday of this week and hopes Diva continues to excel through the winter rodeo run. Taylor says her plan is to take things day by day and hopes to continue her ascension in the WPRA rankings as winter progresses. She thanks her parents, Ben and Suzanne Taylor, for their constant support.

Holding down the No. 2 spot in the Finals was 2018 WPRA Rookie of the Year Jimmie Smith who rode her palomino mare Lena On The Rocks (“Lena”) to a rock-solid 15.07 worth $5,554 in the Finals.

A nationally recognized Western heritage and entertainment event, the NWSS hosts one of the world’s richest regular season professional rodeos making the event a season opening pacesetter for WPRA athletes in pursuit top ranking in the 2020 world standings. The NWSS attracts over 650,000 annual visitors, many of whom are on hand to witness the fast horses and hard riding ladies of professional rodeo.

The stock show was established in 1906 to promote agricultural endeavors and provide scholarships for students interested in the field. The NWSS will drive a projected $120 million in economic impact to the Denver Metro area this January and raise more than $500,000 for the National Western Scholarship Trust, which distributes more than 100 scholarships to students in the fields of agricultural sciences, rural medicine and veterinary medicine.

17th Performance Women’s Barrel Race: 1, Sissy Winn, Chapman Ranch, Texas, 15.21, $3,456. 2, Carly Taylor, Andersonville, Tenn., 15.49 seconds, $2,592. 3, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Lampasas, Texas, 15.53, $1,728. 4, Ashley Castleberry, Montgomery, Texas, 15.67, $864.

18th Performance Women’s Barrel Race: 1, Tillar Murray, Fort Worth, Texas, 15.10 seconds, $3,456. 2, Jimmie Smith, McDade, Texas, 15.11, $2,592. 3, Ryann Pedone, Sunset, Texas, 15.16, $1,728. 4, Tiany Schuster, Krum, Texas, 15.18, $863.

19th Performance Women’s Barrel Race: 1, Abby Phillips, Marshall, Texas, 15.07, $3,456. 2, Hailey Lockwood, Cotulla, Texas, 15.12, $2,592. 3, Kellie Collier, Hereford, Texas, 15.12, $1,728. 4, Karson Bradley, Big Piney, Wyo., 15.29, $864.

20th Performance Women’s Barrel Race: 1, Carly Taylor, Andersonville, Tenn., 14.99 seconds, $7,405. 2, Jimmie Smith, McDade, Texas, 15.07, $5,554. 3, Tillar Murray, Fort Worth, Texas, 15.11, $3,702. 4, Abby Phillips, Marshall, Texas, 15.19, $1,851.

Women’s Barrel Race: First round: 1. Tillar Murray, 14.97 seconds, $2,799; 2. Ivy Hurst, 15.03, $2,399; 3. Jimmie Smith, 15.10, $1,999; 4. Hailey Lockwood, 15.19, $1,733; 5. (tie) Sabra O’Quinn and Wendy Hoefer, 15.23, $1,200 each; 7. Jessi Fish, 15.27, $800; 8. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 15.30, $533; 9. Ryann Pedone, 15.32, $400; 10. (tie) Tiany Schuster and Christine Laughlin, 15.33, $133 each. Second round: 1. Alishea Broussard, 14.94 seconds, $2,799; 2. Ivy Conrado-Saebens, 14.95, $2,399; 3. Tillar Murray, 15.00, $1,999; 4. Cindy Smith, 15.03, $1,733; 5. Michelle Alley, 15.04, $1,333; 6. Jimmie Smith, 15.10, $1,066; 7. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 15.12, $800; 8. (tie) Christine Laughlin and Amberleigh Moore, 15.14, $467 each; 10. Cheyenne Wimberley, 15.15, $267. Progressive First round: 1. Sissy Winn, 15.12 seconds, $3,456; 2. Carly Taylor, 15.49, $2,592; 3. Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi, 15.53, $1,728; 4. Ashley Castleberry, 15.67, $864. Progressive Second round: 1. Tillar Murray, 15.10 seconds, $3,456; 2. Jimmie Smith, 15.16, $2,592; 3. Ryann Pedone, 15.16, $1,728; 4. Tiany Schuster, 15.18, $854. Progressive Third round: 1. Abby Phillips, 15.07 seconds, $3,456; 2. Hailey Lockwood, 15.12, $2,592; 3. Kellie Collier, 15.17, $1,728; 4. Karson Bradley, 15.29, $864. Finals: 1. Carly Taylor, 14.99 seconds, $7,405; 2. Jimmie Smith, 15.07, $5,554; 3. Tillar Murray, 15.11, $3,702; 4. Abby Phillips, 15.19, $1,851.

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Courtesy of WPRA

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