2023 Wrangler NFR presented by Teton Ridge Round 4 Highlights
Ky Hamilton takes charge in bull riding race with Round 4 triumphant
LAS VEGAS – Winning a PRCA World Championship is all about seizing the moment at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge.
That’s exactly what bull rider Ky Hamilton is doing.
The Australia has won two rounds at the 2023 Wrangler NFR with his latest coming on Monday night with an 89-point ride on Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ Fred to win Round 4 before 17,362 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Hamilton and Sage Kimzey (88 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Vitalix Bio-K Anthrax) were the only two cowboys to ride. With ground money – which counts in the world standings – Hamilton and Kimzey earned $52,746 and $46,307, respectively.
Hamilton, who also won Round 1 with his 86.5-point ride aboard Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Vitalix Theodore on Dec. 8, has earned $147,849 at this year’s NFR.
“It’s the way I expect myself to ride every time. From the moment I started riding, my expectations were, ‘there is nothing that you can’t ride that they run in there.’ That’s just what I expect of myself every time and I’m just happy to be here doing it,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton moved into the lead in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $402,013. This is Hamilton’s fourth NFR qualification and he’s aiming to claim his inaugural gold buckle.
“I just bought a house and some land, so it’s going to be put to good use,” said Hamilton about his 2023 earnings. “It’s great to be able to come here and ride for that kind of money. Every year it keeps increasing and it’s special to see the sport grow. I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Hamilton leads the average with 341 points on four head. The average winner pockets $78,747. Hamilton is the only cowboy to ride all four bulls.
“It’s just ride whatever they run in,” said Hamilton about his approach moving forward. “You take it one bull at a time and the rest will take care of itself. All you can do is ride what they give you and go into the next day.”
Bareback rider Leighton Berry gets things rolling with Round 4 victory
During the first three rounds of this year’s Wrangler NFR, bareback rider Leighton Berry had not had much luck.
The Weatherford, Texas, cowboy’s fortunes changed in Round 4.
Berry took home the crown with an 87.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Painted Smoke.
“I know that horse has great bloodlines,” said Berry, 24. “There’s a reason why he’s as great as he is at a young age. I think that horse has been here (the NFR) three times, and I don’t think he’s older than 10. It is one that I wanted to pull out of this pen, and I was very lucky to have drawn him and obviously it worked out.”
With the $30,706 win, Berry is third in the world standings with $206,751.
“That ride was electric,” Berry said. “That horse leaves there faster than some of the TV pen horses. As soon as you nod, you’re basically spurring, and I knew if I kept my hand shut and kept setting my feet that things were going to good.
“Coming in tonight, I just tried to shake loose and know that things could turn around in an instant.”
Clint Summers/Jake Long stay hot, win another NFR Round
There’s no better time to get on a heater than the Wrangler National Finals.
That’s exactly what team ropers Clint Summers/Jake Long have done this year.
The duo won its third round in four days – their latest win came in Round 4 with a 3.7-second run.
“It’s like you are in a dream. I’m just happy to be living it and hopefully we can keep it rolling,” Summers said. “We have been drawing good. Last night, I slipped up and didn’t do my job but tonight to come back and give that type of run, it felt great. I had a good start, got it on him quick, and Jake did the rest.”
Long had this say about the latest victory run.
“Things are just on our side right now because I’ve been here a lot and it’s never gone remotely like this,” Long said. “I think we’re both in a good place of being grateful for what we’re doing. Hopefully the rest of the week goes well.”
Summers/Long won Round 1 (4.2 seconds) and Round 2 (3.8 seconds) before receiving a no time in Round 3.
Summers/Long now lead their respective header and heeler world standings with $202,642. They have each won $102,119 at this year’s NFR.
“I don’t think we can change what we’re doing,” Summers said. “Every time we back in there we just need to make our run. I peeked up at the leaderboard tonight and said, ‘I want to beat 4.8 (seconds).’ Once we made our run, it was fast enough to win. I think we have really good horses under us, which really helps. They are fit for us and do well in this setup.”
Making the Wrangler NFR is quite an accomplishment for any cowboy.
Australian native Damian Brennan made his debut even more noteworthy by capturing the Round 4 title with an 89-point ride on TNT Pro Rodeo’s Cancun Moon.
“It’s huge. Like I said, it’s everything you have dreamed of as a young bronc rider coming in,” said Brennan about his inaugural NFR round win. “With it being my first NFR I was just pumped to be here. Then to get a go-round win in the eliminator pen, ‘Oh yeah I’m stoked.’
“That horse is an outstanding horse. He’s a little bit tricky but that’s why he is in that eliminator pen. If you can just keep your foot on the gas and stay ahead of him, you can darn sure get the round win and it all happened here tonight.”
Brennan is now ninth in the world standings with $175,403 and he relishes getting to compete in front of the sellout crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“My heart was pumping, it was great. I was just going around there trying to enjoy the moment and I had a chance to look up and see my family as I rode out,” Brennan said. “It was a really special moment.”
Tie-down roper Shad Mayfield claims Round 4 title
If Shad Mayfield had any hopes of winning a 2023 PRCA Tie-Down World Championship he had to make a move in Round 4.
That’s exactly what he did.
The Clovis, N.M., cowboy clocked a 6.9-second run to snare Round 4 glory.
“I was trying not to think about it too much. I wanted to just focus on doing my job,” Mayfield said. “I knew I needed to win another go-round here to get myself going and get some money under me. I knew I had a really good calf and just needed to do my job.”
Mayfield, who won the 2020 PRCA Tie-Down Roping World Championship, remains third in the world standings with $247,310. Riley Webb, who’s No. 1, took second in Round 4 with a 7.1-second run.
After failing to place in Round 1 and Round 2, and receiving a no time in Round 3, Mayfield had a sense of urgency in Round 4.
“It’s not easy. I’ve been here five times now and everybody is going to have that one run they want back,” said Mayfield said about Round 3. “It’s about how you overcome that and I’m still young, still learning. I got pretty down on myself, but a good friend Fred Whitfield had a really good pep talk with me. He said it’s about you bounce back and that’s what I had to tell myself. You can’t keep letting it get to you. It’s a new rodeo every night, so make the most of it.”
Mayfield’s plan now is to build on this momentum.
“You just have to take it one calf at a time. As long as they keep drawing me good calves, I’m going to continue to take advantage of them,” he said. “Hopefully I can win a few more go-rounds here and continue to stay hooked.”
Steer wrestler Bridger Anderson takes Round 4 win
Bridger Anderson had only been to the NFR once in his career and that came in 2020.
The Carrington, N.D., cowboy returned to the NFR in 2023 and made headlines in Round 4 with a 3.5-second winning run at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“It’s awesome. It all came together the way we wanted it to, tonight,” said Anderson. “We’re fortunate to come away with a round win and it looks like we’ll be heading to the South Point.”
Anderson, with $30,706 in his pocket from Monday’s performance, is 11th in the world standings with $139,094.
“It’s the mindset added into every night (to win),” Anderson said. “The whole point of trying to win money is to make the best run you can and I kind of feel like if the round win is going to happen it’s going to happen. It’s not something you can necessarily control. We’re not going to try harder on one steer compared to the other to go win a round. We’re trying to win a round every night but it worked out tonight. I had a great steer.”
Barrel racer Sissy Winn snares another round in Vegas
Things keep rolling for barrel racer Sissy Winn.
The Chapman, Texas, cowgirl, who won Round 1 Friday, added the Round 4 victory on Monday with a 13.50-second run, the fastest so far at this year’s NFR.
“I just couldn’t believe he was that fast. When I heard it was a five (tenths), I couldn’t help but be excited,” Winn said. “He’s been electric in this pen, and I am finally keeping up with him. I just hope we can keep doing that.”
Winn acknowledged the Thomas & Mack Center is a unique atmosphere.
“It’s so different from what we do all year. All year we are in big pens, small pens but he doesn’t care,” Winn said. “There’s a lot that goes on every day, so when it’s showtime you are just trying to keep them calm and keep making that same run every time.
“Being here is a dream come true. I know that sounds so cliché, but I am just in awe that after all these years of hard work we are here.”
Despite an 18.61-second run on Sunday, Winn was able to regroup in Round 4.
“I just had to shake it off. You just have to take it one run at a time,” she said. “You go through ups and downs throughout the year, and this is no different. After smacking barrels the past couple nights, I woke up today knowing it was a new day and said, ‘Let’s go get it.’”