Three-time WPRA and American Champion Hailey Kinsel was happy to be back in the AT&T Center for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, held February 10-26. She and her great mare DM Sissy Hayday (“Sis”) didn’t fare too well in the Joe Harry Freeman Coliseum, where the COVID-restricted rodeo was held in 2021.
“It was so nice to be back in that building (AT&T Center),” said Kinsel, who currently leads the WPRA World Standings with $45,101. “I didn’t do super well in Freeman. It’s not her…well, it’s not my favorite setup to ride on her. It was nice to be back at AT&T, especially knowing that she’s done really well in there.”
Kinsel and her super star Sister won the rodeo back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 and added their third championship this year with a $24,000 victory.
She said the AT&T Center isn’t for the faint of heart.
“I forgot how loud that place is!” she said. “I’m putting it up there with The American, maybe even more intense. The fans are on top of you. It’s really tall and there’s fans above you and they’re right in front of you. It’s so crazy how loud it is!”
Her great mare is accustomed to loud, energy-filled atmospheres. The 11-year-old daughter of PC Frenchmans Hayday, bred by Dillon Mundorf, out of the Royal Shake Em mare Royal Sissy Irish, has made nine runs since the 2021 National Finals Rodeo—four at Fort Worth, Texas, where they earned a reserve championship, and five now at the bracket-style San Antonio.
The rodeo, with its $180,000 barrel racing purse, consisted of 50 contestants split into five brackets. Each consisted of three runs. The top four with the most money won advanced to one of two semifinals. The four advancing to the Finals were determined by high money from a combination of semifinals and bracket earnings. Semifinal finalists who failed to advance still had one more shot in a Wildcard round the afternoon of the Finals.
Kinsel and Sis made their first runs in the last bracket of the tournament style rodeo. They picked up $4,000 after placing third in the first round and winning the second of their bracket.
In the Semifinals, the record-holding duo turned in the fastest time of the rodeo, a 13.70 to win their semifinals. They advanced to the finals, third in terms of money-won with $9,000, behind Sissy Winn’s $11,000 and Wenda Johnson’s $10,000.
The second-fastest time of the rodeo, a 13.76, gave them the Finals victory, worth $15,000, to win the rodeo on total money won at $24,000.
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Making the win even sweeter is San Antonio is practically her hometown rodeo, having grown up in Cotulla, Texas, 90 miles to the southwest. She had extended family in the stands every night she competed and got to spend the night in her own bed in Cotulla.
“I’ve never stayed up there,” said Kinsel, who is now based out of Stephenville, Texas. “We’re an hour and 20 minutes. It’s far enough that you get a little tired but it’s so nice to let (the horses) rest in pens and get to ride at home to stretch their legs.”
Being close to home also meant that her mom, Leslie, got to help her in the holding area.
“My mom came down with me in the back on every run,” she said. “Every time I had to stay and do a victory lap or interview, she took Sister back to the trailer, and that’s not an easy task because she walks really fast up that hill!”
Outside of possibly making a run at AT&T Stadium in Dallas for The American, Sis is getting a little break until the last set at Rodeo Houston mid-March. Kinsel has strategically picked her runs with the mare since the very beginning of her professional career.
In the meantime, she’ll run another palomino DH Jess Stellar (“Jules”), a 9-year-old Mighty Jess, Sun Frost mare owned and bred by Damon and Donna Hodges of Hodges Farms.
“I’m going to get on her in some of the coliseum type setups that are the noise level that she can handle,” said Kinsel.
San Antonio Rodeo Semifinal & Final Results (from prorodeo.com):
Semifinal 1: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 13.70 seconds, $5,000; 2. Wenda Johnson, 14.04, $4,000; 3. Dona Kay Rule, 14.15, $3,000; 4. Shannon McReynolds, 14.20, $2,000. Final qualifiers: 1. Wenda Johnson, $10,000; 2. Hailey Kinsel, $9,000; 3. Dona Kay Rule, $8,000; 4. Shannon McReynolds, $6,000; 5. Jessica Routier, $6,000.
Semifinal 2: 1. Cheyenne Wimberley, 13.95 seconds, $5,000; 2. Sissy Winn, 14.24, $4,000; 3. Lacinda Rose, 14.34, $3,000; 4. Molly Otto, 14.35, $2,000. Final qualifiers: 1. Sissy Winn, $11,000; 2. Cheyenne Wimberly, $7,500; 3. Lacinda Rose, $6,000; 4. Jordon Briggs, $5,333; 5. Brittany Tonozzi, $5,000.
Wildcard: 1. (tie) Emma Charleston and Paige Jones, 14.15 seconds, $4,500 each; 3. Cassidy Champlin, 14.18, $3,000; 4. Kricket Gintner, 14.26, $2,000.
Finals: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 13.76 seconds, $15,000; 2. Dona Kay Rule, 14.00, $10,000; 3. Cheyenne Wimberly, 14.02, $5,000; 4. Jordon Briggs, 14.03, $3,000.
Champion: Hailey Kinsel, $24,000
For Bracket Results: San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Semifinals Field Set