Miller Wins First Career World Title
By Ann Bleiker
Nellie Miller and her homegrown AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year Rafter W Minnie Reba were the model of consistency during the 2017 Wrangler NFR. As a result, Miller will be taking the WPRA world title home to Cottonwood, Calif. Miller and Sister set a new average record at the Wrangler NFR with a total time of 137.32 seconds on 10 runs, en route to the title. She broke the record set last year by Lisa Lockhart with a time of 137.98. Miller collected $177,962 during the 10 days in Las Vegas moving from third to No. 1. "I just have no words," said Miller upon learning she had won the world title. "When I was at the NFR in 2010, we struggled so to come back this year and have this type of year is just really amazing. I can't thank my parents enough for helping me get to this point. It is truly a family affair." Her father, Sam Williams, trained Sister and so the win is as much his as it is for Nellie. For Miller, it was sweet victory at the Thomas and Mack having attended college at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, and competing on the rodeo team.
Photo by Kenneth Springer
"This is just so great for my family," said Miller, who is married to James Miller the general manager of the Red Bluff (Calif.) Roundp. "Rodeo is what we do. I mean, this is the biggest event that you can win."
Hailey Kinsel continued to wow the crowd with another lighting fast time in Round 10. She won the round in a time of 13.17 seconds, after setting a new arena record in Rd 3 with a 13.11. Kinsel, of Cotulla, Texas, entered the Wrangler NFR ranked 7th but leaves town as the 2017 WPRA Reserve World Champion winning a total of $288,092 on the year. Kinsel won the most of any barrel racer at this year's NFR with $189,385 setting a new NFR earnings record. She broke Amberleigh Moore's record set in 2016 with $187,692.
Tiany Schuster, who entered the Finals ranked No. 1, finished third with $285,339 after an extremely tough Wrangler NFR.
Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi became just the third barrel racer in WPRA history to cross the $2 million mark. She finished the 2017 season with career earnings of $2,053,056 after pocketing $68,244 at her 11th Wrangler NFR.