Round 3 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Cheat Sheet

10x Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racer, trainer, and clinician Molly Powell, of Stephenville, Texas, breaks down 2021 NFR action.
Dona Kay Rule and High Valor.

Having ridden a number of different horses — “Pecan,” “Quaker,” “Slider,” and “Sparky” just to name a few — down the alley at the Thomas & Mack Center arena, Molly Powell has been kind enough to share her insider insights with Barrel Racing Magazine as we continue tracking the most exciting 10 days of the year in rodeo.

World Standings Leader Hailey Kinsel

Round 2: 13.88 seconds

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $26,111.10

World Standings Earnings: $139,639.69

Average: 2

World Standings: 1

Powell’s take: Hailey and Sister are going to continue to make smart, fast runs and stay in that average. They obviously have the speed to get their fair share of money in the rounds as they have historically done, so I look for that to happen. One impression from the second round—there were 14 penalty-free runs and in my experience back in the day if the ground developed a hard pan to it, a lot of barrels went down. We’re not seeing that; we are seeing a lot of effort to provide great ground conditions for these elite rodeo athletes. It makes for slim margins of time between placing and not placing. It makes for great watching, which is good for the barrel racing industry.

No. 2 Jordon Briggs

Round 2: 13.81 seconds

Round Winnings: $4,354.35

Total NFR Earnings: $21,321.31

World Standings Earnings: $123,939.51

Average: 4

World Standings: 2

Powell’s take: Once again Jordon and Rollo made a great run and did so at the bottom of the ground, which is impressive. Jordon rode aggressively to get go-round money and position herself as a strong average contender. She’ll be at the top of the draw tonight and I look for another super-solid display from this team.

No. 3 Dona Kay Rule

Round 2: 13.56

Round Winnings: $26,996.97

Total NFR Earnings: $36,996.97

World Standings Earnings: $121,986.93

Average: 13

World Standings: 3

Powell’s take: Dona Kay had awesome timing with Valor to produce the kind of super-fast run they’re famous for. Valor hit on all cylinders and the clock certainly reflected that. What I observed and appreciated about Dona Kay’s riding is that she was patient. She knows how fast her horse is and she is proof that sometimes slowing yourself down makes for a smoother, faster run, and it was just that—silky smooth and a 13.56 to get the win by more than a tenth.

Dona Kay Rule and High Valor.

No. 4 Shelley Morgan

Round 2: 13.73 seconds

Round Winnings: $16,111.10

Total NFR Earnings: $26,111.10

World Standings Earnings: $120,340.43

Average: 7

World Standings: 4

Powell’s take: Shelley and Kiss improved by nearly three tenths in the second round over the first, placing third in the round as a result. They’re figuring out the ground and, in my opinion, look like they could be strong average contenders. This year could be one of the toughest average races we’ve seen.

No. 5 Cheyenne Wimberley

Round 2: 13.85 seconds

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $34,166.64

World Standings Earnings: $111,298.94

Average: 1

World Standings: 5

Powell’s take: A little bad luck kept Cheyenne from placing, but had Rocco not had that slip at the first barrel, Cheyenne would’ve been right in the thick of the round placings. Cheyenne’s a competitor with a great arsenal of impeccably prepared horses, and it’s early but she is on top in the average, which is exciting.

No. 6 Amanda Welsh

Round 2: 13.98 seconds

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $34,166.64

World Standings Earnings: $111,086.12

Average: 5

World Standings: 6

Powell’s take: In this go round it looked like there was just no room for the slightest bobble, and it looked like Firefly struggled just a touch leaving the third barrel. Without that little bobble, they are right there. It just proves what a competitive field we’re seeing.

No. 7 Stevi Hillman

Round 2: 13.74

Round Winnings: $11,321.11

Total NFR Earnings: $25,675.66

World Standings Earnings: $96,854.15

Average: 3

World Standings: 7

Powell’s take: This young horse Stevi is riding, Famous Lemon Drop by freshman NFR sire First Down French, is so fast. We’re seeing such talent coming out of the futurity world and not only that, but so many of them are transitioning to rodeo very well. That is a testament to the breeders. They’re breeding horses that mentally and physically withstand the demands of futurities and then go on to do the same at rodeos.

No. 8 Lisa Lockhart

Round 2: 13.70

Round Winnings: $21,336.32

Total NFR Earnings: $31,336.32

World Standings Earnings: $96,380.03

Average: 9

World Standings: 8

Powell’s take: Cutter has a unique style, and he performs so well for Lisa, which I think is due in no small part to her experience and expert riding ability. Lisa used a lot of finesse in that run, she has amazing hands and skillful timing. It’s a pleasure to watch what Lisa gets done on the various styles of horses she has ridden to 15 NFR’s.

Lisa Lockart and Prime Diamond.

No. 9 Emily Miller-Beisel

Round 2: 13.96

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $21,321.31

World Standings Earnings: $94,794.45

Average: 6

World Standings: 9

Powell’s take: Chongo pulled off the third and that likely cost Emily placing, but he looks like he loves the Thomas & Mack, loves to run barrels, and Emily knows exactly what she needs to do for the next seven rounds to win her fair share.

No. 10 Jessica Routier

Round 2: 13.90

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $10,000

World Standings Earnings: $88,847.28

Average: 11

World Standings: 10

Powell’s take: Jessica and Missy improved by nearly six tenths over their time in the first round, so even though they were out of the money, that improvement is a victory in itself. When you’re in Vegas running against the best in the world, you just keep hammering away at it, which is what they’ll continue to do.

No. 11 Nellie Miller

Round 2: 14.03 seconds

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $10,000  

World Standings Earnings: $85,519.15

Average: 12

World Standings: 11

Powell’s take: Sister looked like she stepped out leaving the first slightly, which will cost you time, but in my opinion as the ground firms up their times are going to keep getting faster. Like I said last night, you cannot count out a former world champion who knows her horse inside and out.

No. 12 Wenda Johnson

Round 2: 13.77

Round Winnings: $6,966.96

Total NFR Earnings: $16,966.96

World Standings Earnings: $84,351.52

Average: 14

World Standings: 12

Powell’s take: Wenda overcame some tough luck in the first round and rode her horse awesome to earn a nice check in round two. She carried a whip and Mac was freer, kept moving through his turns and used all that speed he’s got to stop the clock. I look for more of the same tonight

No. 13 Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi

Round 2: 13.86 seconds

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $10,000

World Standings Earnings: $83,785.70

Average: 8

World Standings: 13

Powell’s take: Brittany’s riding a really good horse that’s a product of her highly successful breeding program. She and Birdie were just out of placing, but a tenth faster. She could very well crack out one of her other great horses (Katniss or Elsa) as she moves up on the ground tonight. Whichever one she chooses I know it will be fast and fully capable of a go round win or top placing, there’s no doubt.

No. 14 Ivy Saebens

Round 2: 14.29 plus 10 (24.29)

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $10,000

World Standings Earnings: $80,806.08

Average: 15

World Standings: 14

Powell’s take: Ivy overshot the first barrel, and it threw the position and timing of the run off, but that is so easy to do in that set up. From personal experience, it’s hard because if you’re riding a ratey horse you have to have perfect timing because the first barrel is blind and there’s little time to adjust when you leave the alley. Things happen so fast that you’re there before you know it. Ivy’s a smart rider and she will adjust and do well this week.

No. 15 Molly Otto

Round 2: 13.89

Round Winnings: 

Total NFR Earnings: $10,000

World Standings Earnings: $74,172.51

Average: 10

World Standings: 15

Powell’s take: Chewy ate up the turns and performed very well toward the bottom of the draw. Molly is moving up in the run order and continuing to turn in faster, smoother runs as she goes.