LAS VEGAS — DECEMBER 12, 2023 Summer Kosel and Firewaterfrenchfame rocked Round Five of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with the fastest time of the week, a 13.42, worth $30,706. Kosel of Glenham, South Dakota, came into the 2023 Wrangler NFR in the No. 9 position in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world standings and now sits in the No. 7 position. This marks first-timer Kosel’s first NFR round win, and she and “Apollo” also now hold the fastest time for Round Five of the NFR.

“When I felt him turn his first barrel, my first thought was ‘Alright, just ride and stay out of his way,'” Kosel said.

At her first NFR, Kosel looks like a veteran in the arena. They’ve been steadily picking up paychecks and getting the arena figured out. At top of the ground at draw No. 1 in Round Five, the duo turned in the fastest time of the NFR so far. Kosel gives all that credit to Apollo for his consistency and natural talent around a barrel. Even so, Kosel’s strategy for handling 10 days of competition isn’t focusing on fixing mistakes in the pattern — she’s simply trying to keep Apollo relaxed and happy.

“I don’t take him to barrel practice. I went to the first barrel practice more so for myself to gauge that first barrel, because it is completely blind,” Kosel explained. “Other than that, I only ride him in open arena. I throw my halter on him, pop on and take him around just the outside. We do not work barrels on Apollo unless something is severely off, but usually then it’s a vet appointment, not him not working. Even at home, I don’t work barrels. We’ve just been doing open arena and keeping our legs stretched out riding around.”

Summer Kosel turns second barrel
Summer Kosel and Firewaterfrenchfame rocked Round Five of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with the fastest time of the week, a 13.42, worth $30,706. Photo by Kenneth Springer

Kosel hasn’t been fazed by the high pressure herself either at her first NFR. She and Apollo finished second in Round Two with a time 13.63, worth $24,268. Not only are Apollo and Kosel NFR earners, but now they can add round winner to their names.

“Honestly, I’ve just been winging it and living on a prayer every round,” Kosel said with a laugh. “I don’t do well with game plans. I’m better off just saying, ‘Hey, here you go God. Let’s go.’ I just send it every night. I don’t really have a game plan. I’m really being honest. I’ve been having fun.”

Kosel and Apollo are not new to the winner’s circle either. Apollo is the second NFR horse bred and raised by Carol Warren out of her great Fire Water Flit-Magnolia Bar mare Fire Water Flyer. Apollo, who is the second NFR qualifier this year for Aint Seen Nothin Yet, is a half-brother to Shu Fire, the Dash Of Royal Gold mare, who helped Jessie Telford qualify for the NFR. Apollo and Kosel also set the Cheyenne Frontier Days arena record twice — the first time in 2022 when they ran a 17.02 in the first round in the CFD to break Kristie Peterson’s long-standing arena record of 17.03. Then, they broke their own CFD record with a 16.97 during the Finals of the 2023 CFD. Fellow 2023 NFR qualifier Sue Smith and Dashs Centerfold turned around to beat Kosel’s CFD arena record on the same day with a 16.89. Now, Kosel and Apollo are carrying that same energy into the NFR.

“I know people have seen tipped barrels, and last night my reins flipped over at the first barrel on the wrong slide and got stuck on his nose and and I just go out of the arena laughing and petting him and saying thank you, Lord. Thank you, Apollo,” Kosel said with a laugh. “I mean the hard work’s over — we made it. I really am just having fun, and I’m very thankful for sure.”

NFR Barrel Racing Notable Horse Changes

Hailey Kinsel stepped off her four-time WPRA World Champion DM Sissy Hayday (PC Frenchmans Hayday x Royal Sissy Irish x Royal Shakem) and got on Cayla Melby Small’s standout mare Slick N Black, who was bred by her NFR qualifying mom Jane Melby, and is by the Highest Earning Performing NFR stallion of all time, Slick By Design, and out of Melby’s NFR-qualifying mare RC Back In Black. With her bloodlines touting NFR qualifiers on both top and bottom, the mare was destined to make a run down the alleyway at the Thomas and Mack. “Spatch” was trained and campaigned by Small to more than $275,636 in EquiStat reported lifetime earnings. This marks the first Slick By Design progeny and first out of RC Back In Black to compete at the NFR. In Round Five, Kinsel and Spatch turned in a 14.21, which was out of the money. Thus far, Kinsel has yet to pick up a paycheck at the 2023 Wrangler NFR.

Kassie Mowry stepped off CP He Will Be Epic, who has more than $519,859 in EquiStat reported lifetime earnings, and got on Force The Goodbye. “Jarvis,” who is considered one of the greatest aged-event horses in the country, has ran to more than $650,558 in EquiStat reported lifetime earnings. Mowry ran Jarvis at the 2022 NFR as a 4-year-old, and this year the now-5-year-old has only matured with experience and time. Jarvis was bred by Janelle Blubaugh and is owned by Mowry’s fiance Michael Boone. The 2018 gelding is by The Goodbye Lane and out of VF Forcit First by Burrs First Down and turned in a time of 13.70, which was out of the money but kept Mowry in contention for the aggregate. She currently sits in the No. 2 position in the aggregate.

Taycie Matthews stepped off Heavenly Firewater and got on Stoli My Firewater. Matthews rode “Stoli” in Round Three as well, but had a little tough luck. In Round Five they still had a downed barrel, but what would have been a 13.77 before the penalty would have put them in contention for a paycheck. The 2018 mare is sired by Matthews’ other mount Heavenly Firewater and out of Lisa Nicholas’ great futurity and open horse Stoli My Guy by Traffic Guy. The young mare was trained and campaigned by Brian Wheeler to over $22,000 in EquiStat reported earnings before joining Matthews’ rodeo string.

Resistol Rookie Night

The Resistol Rookies of the Year were recognized inside the Thomas and Mack Center during the fifth performance of the Wrangler NFR, including WPRA Barrel Racing Resistol Rookie of the Year Kalli McCall. The Lufkin, Texas, cowgirl finished the year in the No. 45 position in the pro rodeo world standings, but she bested her fellow Rookie competitors to take home the coveted title.

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi Sets Single-Year Earnings Record

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi has had a fairytale year, racking up earnings and accolades, and she’s not finished yet. Tonozzi and Jets Top Gun have earned $102,119 in Wrangler NFR earnings in only five rounds and have officially surpassed Hailey Kinsel’s WPRA Single-Year Earnings record of $350,700 set in 2018. Tonozzi’s world standings earnings currently sit at $372,682. She still holds onto her No. 1 ranking in the world standings as well as her No. 1 position in the aggregate race.

Brittany Tonozzi turns third barrel
Brittany Tonozzi and Jets Top Gun have earned $102,119 in Wrangler NFR earnings in only five rounds and have officially surpassed Hailey Kinsel’s WPRA Single-Year Earnings record of $250,700 set in 2018. Tonozzi’s world standings earnings currently sit at $372,682 after Round Five. Photo by Kenneth Springer
Four ladies of the WPRA have earned more than $1 million in NFR career earnings. From left to right: Sherry Cervi, Lisa Lockhart, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and Hailey Kinsel. Photo by Kenneth Springer

2023 NFR Barrel Racing Round Five Results

Place, Name, Horse, Time, Money Won

1. Summer Kosel / Firewaterfrenchfame / 13.42 / $30,706

2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi / Jets Top Gun / 13.58 / $24,268

3. Sissy Winn /  A R Dash Ta Flame / 13.59 / $18,325

4/5/6. (tie) Emily Beisel / Ivory On Fire / 13.60 / $8,585

4/5/6. Jordon Briggs / Famous Lil Jet / 13.60 / $8,585

4/5/6. Paige Jones / Famous Hayday / 13.60 / $8,585

7. Wenda Johnson / Steal Money / 13.63

8. Kassie Mowry / Force The Goodbye / 13.70

9. Lisa Lockhart / Promise Me Fame Guys / 13.81

10. Jessica Routier / Fiery Miss West / 13.84

11. Sue Smith / Diamond Center / 13.97

12. Ilyssa Riley / Themajorthriller / 14.15

13. Hailey Kinsel /  Slick N Black / 14.21

14. Taycie Matthews / Stoli My Firewater / 18.77*

15. Stevi Hillman / Sand In My Socks / 19.02*

2023 WPRA Top 15 Stats

2023 NFR Barrel Racing Horsepower

2023 NFR Barrel Racing Horses Connections and Stats

Aggregate Standings on Four Runs

Rank, Name, Aggregate Time

  1. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi / 68.27 
  2. Kassie Mowry / 68.72
  3. Jordon Briggs / 68.77
  4. Lisa Lockhart / 68.92
  5. Paige Jones / 68.93
  6. Jessica Routier /  69.08
  7. Sue Smith / 69.60
  8. Hailey Kinsel / 74.89
  9. Ilyssa Riley / 74.95
  10. Wenda Johnson / 78.45
  11. Emily Beisel / 78.53
  12. Summer Kosel / 79.37
  13. Sissy Winn / 83.12
  14. Stevi Hillman / 89.22
  15. Taycie Matthews / 89.85

2023 WPRA World Standings (after Round Five)

1. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi / Lampasas, Texas / $372,682.65

2. Emily Beisel / Weatherford, Oklahoma / $203,090.75

3. Jordon Briggs / Tolar, Texas / $202,686.22

4. Sissy Winn / Chapman Ranch, Texas / $198,760.10

5. Lisa Lockhart / Oelrichs, South Dakota / $198,575.50

6.Kassie Mowry / Dublin, Texas / $186,394.93

7. Summer Kosel / Glenham, South Dakota / $180,655.99

8. Jessica Routier / Buffalo, South Dakota / $157,698.55

9. Taycie Matthews / Wynne, Arkansas / $154,161.40

10. Stevi Hillman / Granbury, Texas / $149,721.85

11. Paige Jones / Wayne, Oklahoma / $140,868.12

12. Paige Jones / Wayne, Oklahoma / $133,968.73

13. Wenda Johnson / Pawhuska, Oklahoma / $130,506.57

14. Ilyssa Riley / Hico, Texas / $121,473.37

15. Hailey Kinsel / Cotulla, Texas / $115,775.77


Kailey Sullins is editor of Barrel Horse News, and an avid barrel racer and breakaway roper. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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