Rounds 5 through 7 of the 65th Annual National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge took place over the past two days and some new champions have emerged in barrel racing.
Taking home Round 5 was Summer Kosel aboard Firewaterfrenchfame, affectionately known as Apollo. The duo ran the fastest time of the NFR with a 13.42 and an overall record for Round 5. In Round 4 they ran into some trouble when Apollo’s reins flipped over his head going around the first barrel. They were able to salvage the run and stay in the average despite the gelding running with the reins across one eye. The top of the ground advantage was all theirs in Round 5 and they proved they were real contenders, winning the round by over a tenth of a second. Summer and Apollo also hold the arena record at Cheyenne Frontier Days. 2023 is Summer’s first NFR qualification and this was her first round win. Summer’s behind the scenes approach at the NFR is a bit different than many of the riders. She does not work Apollo during the allotted daily barrel practice; instead she just rides him out in a halter and lets him stretch his legs. Her run strategy every night is to just “send it and have fun,” and this round win definitely checked those boxes.
Round 6 was run Wednesday morning to make up for the postponement of Round 1 last week. This schedule change meant the competitors would have to run twice in one day and it was interesting to see some of the different strategies the riders chose. While a few did stay on their main horses, many decided to bring out their backup horses to save their main horses for the Round 7 night performance.
Emily Beisel stayed on her star mare Liza, and had to do some acrobatic riding to keep them up and win Round 6 with a 13.60. Emily has won many NFR rounds in her 5 qualifications aboard her famed gray gelding “Chongo,” but this was her first round win on a different horse. Ivory on Fire, or “Liza,” is a seven-year-old by Ivory James. She has been Emily’s main mount for the 2023 season. Beisel says she’s very proud of Liza being able to step up to the pressure of performing in an atmosphere like the Thomas and Mack.
Emily is now sitting second in the world standings behind big leader Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi. Check out her $30,000 leg lift that saved the day and got the round win:
Round 7 took place only a few hours after round 6 and the lady on top of the world called upon her main man Benny to get the job done. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi has placed in every round she has ridden Benny (1-5), but the Round 7 buckle was all hers after they turned in a 13.47. She gave Benny the morning off in Round 6 and rode her great mare Birdie to a 13.90 to maintain her lead in the average. Benny came in on fire for Round 7 and put together a beautiful run. The round win extended Brittany’s season earnings record to over $400,000. With three rounds left, she currently is leading the average by just over half a second. A first place average check pays just over $90,000.
On the tail end of the year of a lifetime for Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, we are wondering just how much more this amazing lady can accomplish. With over $750,000 in futurity and derby earnings in 2023, will she top it off with over $500,000 in Pro Rodeo earnings? There are three more nights to figure that out, but in the meantime we will just watch in awe.
Stay tuned for our next recap. Who do you think will win Round 8? Until then, here are the standings: