Highpoint Barrel Horses announced on Monday, November 20 that the stallion Smoken French Winner will be headed to the NFR with barrel racer Wenda Johnson in December 2023 along with Steal Money, Mo,” and the official word just came in that Johnson will be running the stallion in Round 7 on Dec. 13.
“When we heard about Smoke and watched his videos, we thought he’d really compliment Wenda’s style,” said Jason Martin, owner at Highpoint Barrel Horses.
Martin and Highpoint co-owner Charlie Cole’s hunch proved correct right off the bat. As owner Christian Shipley proudly looked on inside Cowtown Coliseum, Johnson and Smoke won their first open rodeo together on Friday, Nov. 17 at the famed Fort Worth arena, then came back to outclock their own time inside the small building the following evening. With Cowtown Coliseum’s format closely mimicking the NFR setup, it’s all green flags for the team on board.
“Smoken French Winner is so impressive,” Johnson, a multiple-time NFR qualifier said. “He’s easy to be around, athletic and tries hard. I am grateful to borrow such a quality horse. I feel like his talents will be an attribute to my team and a great support to Mo.”
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Missouri man Shipley is thrilled for the stallion.
“Smoke deserves this for himself,” Shipley said. “He’s getting his chance to show the world just how incredible he truly is. This has already been such an exciting ride, and it’s only the beginning for Smoke. He’s proven himself in all setups. He runs in a hackamore—if you don’t have one handy, the next-best thing to run him in is a halter. I could talk about him all day. He makes it easy. Honestly, he’s so easy that sometimes it’s hard for people. But it wasn’t for Wenda—she fit him like a glove.”
Johnson’s proven to be a resilient jockey in 2023 already. She and Highpoint lost Macgyver Moonflash, “Mac,” the standout gelding with a lifetime earnings of over $500,000 in late July 2023. This meant that Johnson and Steal Money, “Mo,” her other talented gelding to take on the tail end of the WPRA regular season solo. Johnson rallied to end the year in the No. 7 in the world standings heading into the NFR with $120,505.57 earned on the regular season across just 57 rodeos.
Smoke will serve as Johnson’s backup to Mo inside the Thomas & Mack. Shipley conveyed nothing but praise for Johnson.
“Wenda is incredible,” Shipley said. “She is so professional and can completely adjust to any style.”
Smoken French Winner is a 2009 model by Smoke N Sparks and out of Runaway Frenchgirl by Frenchmans Guy.
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