When Jimmie Smith-Tew made the decision to run A Valiant Nicky at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, it’s safe to say she had uncertain feelings.
“Did I have a plan? No,” Tew said. “Was I afraid? Yes. It was like our running joke of the week—”What if Nicky ACTUALLY wins Denver?”
Well, Nicky actually won Denver. She ran the fastest time of the week—a 14.83— in the finals to take home $4,074 and the event championship.
“When she got around that first (In the Finals) I was just thinking ‘Come on Jimmie. You can actually win this if you get around the next two!” Tew said. “It feels as fast it looks. It’s this in-and-out, insane feeling on her.”
To get there, they first made two runs in Bracket Six. After an unsatisfactory first round, Tew figured she had nothing to lose in the second round, so she jumped on Nicky, who favors open setups and calmer atmospheres than the Denver Coliseum offers. To her own surprise, she advanced out of her bracket in the No. 3 position with an aggregate time of 31.24 seconds after Nicky made a solid trip. In the Semifinals, Tew slid through to the finals in the No. 4 slot behind Lisa Lockhart.
The finals saw reigning NWSSR champion Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi post a 14.96-second run and Kalli McCall run a 14.95, but Tew sailed away with the win after her electric run.
Although rodeoing wasn’t in Tew’s 2023 plans, she entered Denver and the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo since she had qualifying positions into both. Since Tew qualified for the NFR in 2020, she’s had a rollercoaster relationship with ProRodeo.
“This was the first year I convinced myself that my worth doesn’t lie in making the NFR,” Tew said. “Since my rookie year I haven’t had a year that was just screaming that I needed to stop and go home. But, that’s what 2022 was for me, but it’s hilarious because outside of ProRodeo it was probably my best year of barrel racing. I just couldn’t get it together at the ProRodeos. I decided to just enter where I could and see where it goes. No year out there is perfect, but sometimes that reality check is just needed.”
Tew and Nicky paired up in 2021 and Tew has jockeyed the mare off and on since. Nicky is a 2013 model by A Valiant Hero and out of the standout mare Nicky Brick House, who is a standout producer and took her own trip to the NFR with Bennette Barrington-Little.
Tew had the right horse and the right timing, but a little extra luck was on her side on championship Sunday. Fans may remember the “lucky,” unicorn socks that Emily Beisel wore during her first round win at the 2022 NFR, and super fans might recall that it is Tew who sent Beisel the socks because she, too, has a lucky pair.
“Of course I was wearing the socks!” Tew said.
2023 National Western Stock Show Championship Round Results
- Jimmie Smith-Tew, McDade, Texas, 14.83, $4,074.
- Kalli McCall, Lufkin, Texas, 14.95, $3,543.
- Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Lampasas, Texas, 14.96, $3,011
- Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 15.04, $2,480.
- Darby Fox, king Hill, Idaho, 15.06, $1,948.
- Kristi Steffes, Vale, S.D., 15.18, $1,417.
- Timber Allenbrand, Paola, Kan., 15.21, $886.
- Sophie Nolen, Stephenville, Texas, 15.25, $354