LAS VEGAS – Saddle bronc rider Dawson Hay picked a good day to have a great day.
The Canadian tied the Round 9 record with a winning ride of 92 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s BDM Mud’s Killer Bee before 17,762 spectators Friday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Yeah, that’s a crazy good horse,” said Hay, 24. “I remember when I first started riding broncs and I saw that horse come on through the years to become the legendary status we all know it has. I’d never had the chance to draw that horse before. I saw it on the list, and I told my wife, ‘I’m going to draw that horse at the NFR this year.’ I thought it was going to be in the first round but we got her.”
The ride was noteworthy not only because of tying the round record, but also because it was the final out of Killer Bee’s career.
“I’m not sure it’s even sunk in yet,” Hay said. “It’s such an incredible feeling. Going through that ride, I’m not sure I’ve ever been on a horse that feels quite like that. That’s a ride that’s going to stick with me forever. It’s a special moment and the kind of thing we’ve always dreamed of since we were little.”
For the performance, Killer Bee was chosen top saddle bronc horse of Round 9. In Round 4 of the 2022 NFR, Killer Bee carried Chase Brooks to an 88-point ride and was selected saddle bronc horse of the night.
At the 2020 Wrangler NFR, Killer Bee was chosen the top bareback horse. She was the 2019 PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year and voted top bareback horse of Round 3 of the 2019 NFR after bucking off Austin Foss. Killer Bee was also the top bareback horse of the 2018 NFR and top saddle bronc horse of the 2013 and 2014 NFRs.
Killer Bee, 17, weighs 1,350 pounds and is 16.3 hands.
Bareback rider Tim O’Connell snares win
Veteran Tim O’Connell, a three-time world champion – 2016-18 – won Round 8 with an 88-point ride on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Star Witness on a re-ride.
“I have never been on that horse, but I have seen videos of him, and I knew what he was capable of,” O’Connell said. “You don’t anticipate coming here and getting a re-ride because you have been thinking about a horse for like 16 hours. I was thankful for getting it (the re-ride). I knew I had to take care of business. He gave me the opportunity to go out there and win and I took it.”
This was O’Connell’s first round win since Round 4 of the 2020 NFR at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. O’Connell won that round with a 90.5-point ride on Fettig Pro Rodeo’s Pop A Top.
“It feels great. It was so exciting,” O’Connell said of getting to make an NFR victory lap again. “I’m sore. I’m beat up but I love this. At the end of the day, I love being a bareback rider.”
Hunter Cure nabs third round win of 2022 NFR
Make it three round wins for steer wrestler Hunter Cure.
The Texas cowboy clocked a 3.6-second run to win Round 9. He also won Round 2 (3.7 seconds) and Round 4 (3.4 seconds).
“That was actually the steer I had in Houston to win the 50 thousand, I am sure glad I got the one I did to have such a smooth and nice run,” said Cure 39.
Cure is fourth in the world standings with $206,270. He is a two-time world champion in 2013 and 2015.
“(My horse) is a paint mare owned by Ringo Robinson, I know it takes a little time in the box, but I am looking for a certain feel and make sure she has her weight on her front end and she is square, I know we can knock things out on a steer that runs this fast,” Cure said of his horsepower.
“Nerves don’t really play into things this late in the rodeo, just trying to get as much money as I can. I never thought I would be taking 3 firsts, but at this point in the game, that’s really what I have to do.”
Cure has earned $96,741 at the NFR.
Marty Yates wins another round in tie-down roping
Marty Yates’ late charge at the Wrangler NFR continued on Friday.
The Stephenville, Texas, cowboy clocked a 7.8-second run to win Round 9.
Yates also won Round 4 (7.4 seconds) and Round 5 (7.3 seconds).
“I’m feeling good. Wishing I had had a little more success in some of those other rounds; but it all works out,” Yates said. “I’m getting a lot of money out of here and I’ll start over again here in a couple weeks.”
Yates is sixth in the world standings $215,981. He has earned $93,710 at the NFR.
Team ropers Rhen Richard/Jeremy Buhler capture victory
Stating the obvious Rhen Richard/Jeremy Buhler have had a disappointing 2022 Wrangler NFR.
The duo received a no-time in six of the eight rounds – but Richard/Buhler bounced back in Round 9 getting the win with a 3.8-second run.
I think I got a good start and got it on the steer, everything flowed pretty good,” Richard said. “Jeremy hooked his horse’s tail – so I didn’t really see that. But he still heeled him fast and I actually faced a little bit early which probably cost us from being a little faster but I’m glad it worked out.”
Buhler was thrilled with his result.
“I don’t know, that was the first time I’ve been under 4 seconds at the Thomas & Mack,” Buhler said.
Richard is 10th in the header world standings with $155,448 and Buhler is 11th in the heeler standings with $156,386.
Bull rider Trey Holston tops Round 9
NFR newcomer Trey Holston got to experience the glory of being a round winner.
Holston recorded an 89.5-point ride on Salt River Rodeo’s Belly Dump to win Round 9.
“It’s one thing to come in feeling fresh and how we want to with all this time to prepare,” Holston said. “What they don’t teach you is when you’re in Round 8, 9, 10 and you’re sore. It’s about clearing your stuff out and giving your best effort. To come out and get a go-round win, I’m feeling blessed.”
Surviving the marathon – known as the NFR – has been quite the experience for Holston.
“I feel like I’ve been an example of the test this week puts you through,” Holston said. “It’s been tough, it’s a long week. I felt the best I could coming in here and there’s just some things you can’t experience without being out here in Las Vegas at the NFR. Being this far and healthy, I’m happy. I have my family here, my friends here and now with a go-round win and a little money in my pocket. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Holston is ninth in the world standings with $164,362.
Barrel racer Hailey Kinsel wins Round 9, takes standings lead
Hailey Kinsel is on pace to win her fourth world title in five years.
The Texas cowgirl moved into first place in the world standings with – $266,263 – after winning Round 9 at 13.34 seconds. That was the fastest run of the 2022 NFR and it also set the new Round 9 record. It was held by Kinsel at 13.40 seconds in 2018.
“My horse (Sister) was just feeling it tonight,” Kinsel said. “She was kind of doing everything fast; we even warmed-up fast. She was shaking her head in the alley thinking, ‘just let me at them.’ She nailed her first barrel and that was something we’ve been working on so once we got through that, we were flying.”
Kinsel welcomes the atmosphere of competing in the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Knowing that when you get into the arena, you hear so much,” Kinsel said. “It becomes sensory overload. It’s kind of strange that she knows when it’s coming so we’re always aware of that. Of course, when you’re at the NFR, you have to appreciate your time here. It’s about feeling appreciative and grateful for the opportunity because you’re never sure when you’re going to be back.
“Winning definitely never gets old. It’s exciting, it’s truly an honor. That’s the best way I can describe it. I’m thankful for a great horse in Sister that gives me the opportunity to win as much as I do.”
Courtesy of the PRCA