By Kailey Sullins
Kissimmee, Florida — Emily Miller, a full-time dental hygienist, claimed the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo Barrel Racing Championship on April 9, 2017, with a standout performance. Miller qualified to the semifinals after a solid showing all week and turned in a 15.51 to punch her ticket to the top four finals round. Making two runs in one day didn’t bother her standout mount, Namgis D 35, as he came back in the finals with a 15.27 to take the title.
“This is my dream,” Miller said through an emotional voice after her title run. “After I made it last year as a last-minute replacement, it was my goal to come back and win this thing. ‘Pipewrench’ was incredible today.”
Miller struggled to get the right approach to the first barrel in last year’s Circuit Finals. This year, she dialed in her great mount for a standout showing all week. The Weatherford, Oklahoma, duo started the week strong with a 15.46 in round one, which earned fourth in the round and $2,274.
In round two, Pipewrench, who’s by Bucks Hancock Dude and out of Central Station by First Down Dash, led Miller to a 15.78, which was out of the money in the round but put them seventh in the average to qualify for the top eight semifinals round.
The top eight contestants met back inside the Silver Spurs Arena on April 9, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. for the clean-slate semifinals where the top four qualified back to another clean-slate finals round. In the semifinals, Miller and Pipewrench crossed the timer’s line in 15.51 seconds to qualify for the finals round.
In the finals round, Miller knew it was all or nothing and entered the arena in full determination. The duo left the crowd on their feet after running a smooth 15.27 to take the title.
“After [the first round], I knew I just needed to make it to today. Today is the important part,” Miller said. “We ended up seventh in the average coming into today, but today is clean-slate. I gave it all I had both runs, and Pipewrench was amazing.”
All totaled, Miller took home a total $13,652, which will serve well going into the rest of the 2017 season, as this is the first year the payout from the RNCFR will count toward the world standings and Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification efforts.
Tiany Schuster, Ari-Anna Flynn and Nellie Miller also qualified to the semifinals round. In the finals, the three cowgirls split a three-way tie with a 15.41 to earn $3,791 each.
1. Tiany Schuster, 15.18, $7,587
2. Ari-Anna Flynn, 15.29, $5,686
3. Emily Miller, 15.51, $3,791
4. Nellie Miller, 15.55, $1,895
Finals Round Results:
1. Emily Miller, 15.27, $7,587
2/3/4. Tiany Schuster, Ari-Anna Flynn, Nellie Miller, 15.41, $3,791 (each)
Kailey Sullins is managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments on this article to [email protected].