Dona Kay Rule and High Valor owned the second go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racing in Las Vegas, Nevada’s Thomas & Mack Center on Fri., Dec. 3. Contestants are two rounds in on the 10-day rodeo marathon that concludes on Sat., Dec. 11, and perhaps no one is more appreciative of a go-round victory than Rule, who missed running in Arlington in 2020 after testing positive for COVID and being eliminated from the NFR, despite having qualified third in last season’s world standings. Making a run that validated her ability, strength of character and perseverance, Rule, of Minco. Okla., added $26,997 to her WPRA career earnings of roughly $400,000.
“I’m excited, I knew I could do it,” said Rule. “I didn’t doubt that everything was there.”
By Valiant Hero and out of Rare High by Rare Form, High Valor (“Valor”) has teamed with Rule for all three of her NFR appearances (2019-2021). Rule, who ran second in tonight’s run order, said Valor felt primed and ready to perform after hitting two barrels last night, which she adamantly owned as rider error.
“I just made some mistakes last night, and that happens. The best thing you can have in this industry is a bad memory. Just turn around and fix it and go on,” she said. “I didn’t even come to practice, it was just a mistake, an error in leaving the alley that created an error on the approach to the first barrel, so it was not a big deal. Once he tipped barrel one, I kind of relaxed.”
Rule said the ground conditions were to Valor’s liking, which helped him fire off the win by more than a tenth over Lisa Lockhart and Prime Diamond at 13.70.
“The ground tonight was almost ideal for Valor,” said Rule. “It gave him that shove through the turns and just enough push off. They explained to us that they pulled all the old dirt, and this is completely new dirt. They’ve done some moisture testing and depth testing so we’re appreciative of the effort and try for all of us.”
Keeping Valor calm and cool will remain priority No. 1 for Rule as the week progresses.
“He’s feeling really good, he was really calm tonight; in the warm-up he was really focused on what he was doing,” she said.
Accompanying Rule and Valor in the alley is her daughter, K.K. Rule, who is well-acquainted with Valor’s routine. Rule thanked all of her supporters, among them Express Ranches, 5 Star Equine Products, Deanna Harrison’s Essential Oils, Pro Stride, Amy Jergens Equine in Colorado, her husband of 41 years, John Rule, along with her entire family.
WPRA World Standings leader Hailey Kinsel finished a couple spots out of the money running 14th on the ground in a dirty tough round. There were 13 runs under the 14-second mark in round two and only one run that produced downed barrels.
Follow Barrel Racing Magazine to stay up to speed on our coverage of all the great stories from the 2021 Wrangler NFR. You can listen to more on Rule’s approach to navigating the first barrel and her strategy for the next 8 rounds in a lengthier interview with her on “The Money Barrel.”
National Finals Rodeo – Go Round 2 Results
1. Dona Kay Rule, High Valor, 13.56, $26,996.97
2. Lisa Lockhart, Prime Diamond, 13.70, $21,336.32
3. Shelley Morgan , HR FameKissAndTell, 13.73, $16,111.10
4. Stevi Hillman, Famous Lemon Drop, 13.74, $11,321.31
5. Wenda Johnson, MacGyver Moonflash, 13.77, $6,966.96
6. Jordon Briggs, Famous Lil Jet, 13.81, $4,354.35