Tonight in Las Vegas, Nev., Round 8 winner Jordon Briggs and Famous Lil Jet (“Rollo”) shared top honors with Round 3 winner Stevi Hillman and Famous Lemon Drop. With identical times of 13.48 in the Thomas & Mack Center arena, Briggs and Hillman each earned $24,167 and their second go-round buckles of the 2021 NFR.
Briggs is a two-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier (2009, 2021) and million-dollar futurity trainer. The WPRA career earner of $249,409 coming into this year’s NFR has added $121,254 to that total so far this week and leads the NFR average with a total on nine runs of 123.11 seconds.
Briggs continues to feed off the amazing performances her 2021 AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year, sired by Dash Ta Fame and out of Blazin Black Beauty, makes night after night.
“You tell yourself you need to capitalize when you’re top of the ground, but you really don’t know if you’re going to be able to do it for sure, so that was all my horse,” she said, humbly. “Today, being first out I kind of lost that buffer horse, so he knew that we were up first when the gate cracked. He straight up ran off with me in the alley way! I was like, alright, we’re just gonna roll with it because it’s already too late. Like I said, he has a lot more confidence than I do.”
While the NFR has been extremely good to Briggs, who has placed in all but one go-round, she is looking forward to wrapping things up in the final perf.
“As a futurity trainer you’re sort of used to getting humbled, so I’d really like to end on a high note,” she laughed. “My horse is amazing, and I just want to gift him and get him home and turn him out in his pasture.”
Of her number one ranking in the average, Briggs remains cautiously optimistic.
Every time I round that third barrel, I take a deep breath and I think everybody that’s cheering for me does too, so thank you guys! Keep taking those deep breaths!”
Briggs is delighted to have her family in town, especially her good luck charm 3-year-old daughter Bexley, who is rested up and ready for another trip to South Point.
Briggs has a solid grip on the No. 2 spot in the world standings with $223,872. Hailey Kinsel leads the world standings with $236,742 and sits second in the average. Round 10 promises to be a nail biter.
Hillman, of Weatherford, Texas, first teamed up with the 5-year-old palomino mare Famous Lemon Drop, owned by Matt and Bendi Dunn, in March. “Lemon Drop” is by freshman NFR sire First Down French and out of the Dash Ta Dame daughter, A Famous Lady. She was bred by Shannon Akerstrom’s Western 37 Barrel Horses. Hillman added $24,167 to her WPRA career earnings in Round 9 and might have found herself a little good luck wardrobe element.
“I don’t wear fringe, ever, and I picked two of these Rock N Roll shirts out this year that were silky and pretty and I’ve won both rounds in these fringe shirts,” she said.
Of her strategy for Round 10, Hillman says she’ll stick with what works—fringe and an amazing horse that has been well stewarded to go strong for 10 rounds.
“You just have to make one run at a time and tomorrow’s a completely new day,” she said. “She is a strong little mare, and she is so gritty and uses her whole body. We give her massages, and the Bemer blanket and Pro-Scope treatments. We just try to keep her feeling the best. This is a lot on a 5-year-old, it’s a lot on any horse. We just try to keep any inflammation or soreness out of her body.”
Whatever she’s doing is working as Hillman has $107,320 in 2021 NFR earnings and is fifth in the average.
What If…Round 9 World Title Scenario
The NFR culminates on Saturday, Dec. 11 with the 10th and final go-round, but if it were to end Dec. 10 after Round 9, Briggs would be the average winner. The average championship would also mean she’d be the world champion by a margin of $12,869.86.
Follow Barrel Racing Magazine to stay up to speed on our coverage of all the great stories coming out of the 2021 Wrangler NFR. Catch our lengthier interviews with Briggs and Hillman on “The Money Barrel” podcast.
National Finals Rodeo – Go Round 9 Results
1-2. Jordon Briggs, Famous Lil Jet, 13.48, $24,166.64
1-2. Stevi Hillman, Famous Lemon Drop, 13.48, $24,166.64
3. Amanda Welsh, Frenchmans Fire Fly, 13.54, $16,111.10
4. Wenda Johnson, MacGyver Moonflash, 13.61, $11,321.31
5. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 13.63, $6,966.96
6. Ivy Saebens, KN Fabs Gift Of Fame, 13.66, $4,354.35]
National Finals Rodeo Average Standings:
1. Jordon Briggs, 123.11 seconds on nine runs; 2. Hailey Kinsel, 127.81; 3. Jessica Routier, 130.23; 4. Molly Otto, 131.30; 5. Stevi Hillman, 133.07; 6. Emily Miller-Beisel, 133.13; 7. Dona Kay Rule, 133.51; 8. Shelley Morgan, 133.60; 9. Amanda Welsh, 134.27; 10. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 134.48; 11. Nellie Miller, 134.97; 12. Ivy Saebens, 139.03; 13. Lisa Lockhart, 145.40; 14. Wenda Johnson, 148.96; 15. Cheyenne Wimberley, 149.15.
WPRA World Standings:
1. Hailey Kinsel, $236,742; 2. Jordon Briggs, $223,872; 3. Shelley Morgan, $169,109; 4. Emily Miller-Beisel, $167,512; 5. Stevi Hillman, $154,985; 6. Dona Kay Rule, $151,597; 7. Amanda Welsh, $148,534; 8. Wenda Johnson, $138,345; 9. Ivy Saebens, $128,269; 10. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $128,200; 11. Cheyenne Wimberley, $111,299; 12. Lisa Lockhart, $100,734; 13. Jessica Routier, $100,169; 14. Nellie Miller, $85,519; 15. Molly Otto, $78,527.