Canadian Finals Rodeo riders faced stiff competition

While the wind blew and the snow fell outside Skyreach Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, the barrel racers prepared to make the 6 runs in 5 days that would determine the Canadian Champion. The top 10 riders had earned the right to be at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR), and they were intent on earning the lion's share of the prize-money along with that coveted title. With 4 of the riders accounting for all the championships in the previous decade, plus having the season leader, the Rookie of the Year and the champion of the Calgary Stampede in the field, competition was indeed stiff.While the wind blew and the snow fell outside Skyreach Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, the barrel racers prepared to make the 6 runs in 5 days that would determine the Canadian Champion. The top 10 riders had earned the right to be at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR), and they were intent on earning the lion's share of the prize-money along with that coveted title. With 4 of the riders accounting for all the championships in the previous decade, plus having the season leader, the Rookie of the Year and the champion of the Calgary Stampede in the field, competition was indeed stiff.

Story originally posted by: Judy Wardrope

While the wind blew and the snow fell outside Skyreach Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, the barrel racers prepared to make the 6 runs in 5 days that would determine the Canadian Champion. The top 10 riders had earned the right to be at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR), and they were intent on earning the lion’s share of the prize-money along with that coveted title. With 4 of the riders accounting for all the championships in the previous decade, plus having the season leader, the Rookie of the Year and the champion of the Calgary Stampede in the field, competition was indeed stiff.

The first run on Wednesday evening saw the defending champion, Carol Barr, win the go-round with a time of 15.37 with the bay gelding she calls Mr. Tee (registered as Mr Copy Tee). Hot on her heels was 2-time champion and perennial threat, Rayel Robinson, with a 15.42 clocking on the sorrel Streakinthruthepages, a gelding that she sold several years ago, but leased back for the competition. Gayle Howes (15.52) with Chase (Hollys Lil Peppy) and Danyelle Campbell (15.54) with Moonee (Holinathemoon) were not far behind.

On Thursday Robinson nosed out Barr by the slimmest of margins when she clocked in at 15.26 compared to Barr’s 15.27. Debbie Renger, 4-time champion, was third in 15.36 with Buck (Leos Ole Buck) after tipping a barrel the day before. Jill Besplug, the 2-time champion of the Calgary Stampede, rounded out the top 4 with a time of 15.58, 2/100ths slower than her previous run with the mare she calls Chick (Chicado Doc).

Barr rebounded on Friday with a first place clocking of 15.52, followed by Howes (15.46), Renger (15.50) and Robinson (15.52), but the best was yet to come. Barr left little doubt after the matinee performance on Saturday with an emphatic 15.15, a time that would hold as the fastest run of the event. Campbell’s 15.21 put her in second ahead of Howes (15.40) and 2-time champion, Dawn Rude aboard Pleasure (Really Burnt). Robinson’s horse lost his footing slightly coming out of the third barrel and never seemed to fire again. She explained, "His style didn’t suit the footing. He can usually handle most types of ground, but he’s so sensitive, he gets worried. I had hopes with the start we had, but Carol’s horse is running tough."

A scant 4 hours later they faced off again in what became a barrel-basher. Half of the contestants knocked barrels over, with Campbell adding 10 seconds to her time for the undesirable double. Renger emerged as the victor, stopping the timers in 15.42. Suzanne DePoali (15.49) edged ahead of Rookie of the Year, Shandel Thomson (15.54) and her horse Cadillac (Million Dollar Buzz), while Barr slipped to 4th with a 15.62 clocking. DePaoli rode Chance (Centahol) for the first few performances, but the bay was knocking barrels, so she switched to Zippy (Zippy Reb), who she says, "shocks the heck out of me, but I can take that kind of surprise."

Although Saturday evening was her slowest run to date, Barr had garnered enough points, 160 compared to Renger and Robinson with 80 points each, to ensure the championship for the second year in a row…even if she trotted the pattern on Sunday.

Naturally, Barr did not trot, but her time was quicker than only 2 others. The round went to Molly Powell aboard Quaker (Too Much Fire) with a super run in 15.18. Campbell (15.36) was second, DePaoli (15.45) was third in her second penalty-free go and Render and Rude tied for fourth with times of 15.47.

Barr finished on top in the aggregate and in the championship with a whopping 200 points, 95 ahead of Renger. It served as an early birthday present for the former banker who gave up her job after partnering with Mr. Tee in June of 2000. The horse paid for himself by August of that year, won the 2001 CFR, was voted 2002 Horse of the Year and is headed to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Barr could hardly contain herself regarding her first trip to the NFR. "I’m ecstatic! I can’t wait to get there."

Canadian Rodeo Finals Results: http://www.rodeocanada.com/.