Barrel racer Hailey Kinsel holds four round records at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, has won the last two world titles and is coming into her fourth Finals No. 1 in the PRCA | RAM World Standings aboard DM Sissy Hayday “Sister,” the 2018 AQHA | PRCA Horse of the Year.
Suffice it to say, the Texas cowgirl has plenty of reasons to feel confident including making the fastest runs in NFR history for Round 1 (13.51 seconds in 2018), Round 3 (13.11 seconds in 2017), Round 9 (13.40 seconds in 2018) and Round 10 (13.17 seconds in 2017).
“I think I’ve always done well under pressure and love competing,” said Kinsel, 26.
The 62nd annual Wrangler NFR kicks off in 18 days, and the top ProRodeo athletes in the 2020 PRCA | RAM World Standings are eagerly awaiting their chance to win their share of the $10 million rodeo and possibly set a round record along the way.
It’s a new ballgame for the Wrangler NFR since the competition has been moved to Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While a different arena with different configurations means past NFR records likely will remain untouched this year, the best rides and runs of the past remain a good measuring stick as the 120 best ProRodeo athletes kick up dust on a new batch of arena dirt.
“I know it’s a different place, but my horse loves big patterns just as much as small patterns, and I’m excited to go to a standard pattern,” Kinsel said. “We hold some arena records on standards around the country, but there are some unknowns so the first round will be a test for us as opposed to years past where we knew what to expect. I’m optimistic we will be at a good place and the ground will be good.”
The first round of the Wrangler NFR sets the pace for the 10-round competition, as evidenced by the rapid turnover in the first round’s barrel racing records.
In 2012, Mary Walker set the Round 1 record with her 13.75-second run. Five years later Nellie Miller broke Walker’s record in 13.64 seconds. Miller’s record stood for one year before Kinsel raised the bar with a 13.51-second run.
Kinsel went on to win Round 6 in 13.63 seconds, Round 7 in 13.61 seconds and Round 9 in 13.40 seconds.
All of her NFR round records were made with Sister as her mount. Sister, 9, has plenty of years of high-speed competition ahead of her.
“I’ve run her at almost every round at the Finals since I’ve been going, and the majority of my success has been on her,” Kinsel said. “She’s super athletic, has a big heart, just loves her job, and is always happy to get in the trailer and go to a barrel race. She always tries to do everything right but she has just enough of that edginess so that it’s not just right, but it’s fast, too.”
In 2018, Kinsel was the first one out in Round 1. Unlike other events at the NFR, barrel racers begin with the season leader.
“You’re kind of the test dummy in some ways and don’t know how the ground will be, so I just asked her to do her best and be safe,” Kinsel said. “Everyone hopes the first run is good since it sets the tone for the week, but it doesn’t definite it.”
Her record-setting Round 1 run certainly set the tone in 2018 as she clinched the world title during Round 9 and set a season-earnings record of $353,027.
These records, and the records for the other nine rounds, could be broken Dec. 3-12. Fans can check with ProRodeo.com for updates throughout the competition and watch the action unfold live on the PRCA on the Cowboy Channel Plus.
The NFR Round 1 records are:
Richmond Champion on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Night Crawler, 2019
Trevor Knowles, 2013
Turtle Powell/Dakota Kirchenschlager, 2014
Tyler Wade/Cole Davison, 2019
Saddle Bronc Riding
89 points, Bryce Miller on Calgary Stampede’s Knife Money, 2008
6.8 seconds, Trevor Brazile, 2015
Hailey Kinsel, 2018
94 points, Don Gay on Billy Minnick Rodeo’s Tiger, 1974; and Blue Stone on Gilbert Diamond G Rodeos’ Mr. USA, 2001
Courtesy of PRCA