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Olds, Alberta barrel racer claims $10,500 prize

Results from Saturday's event

“Yes this is the most money I have ever won in one shot I guess,” an extremely happy Nancy Leischner from Olds, Alberta said after receiving a cheque for $10,500 for placing first in the first division at the barrel racing slot races held on Saturday evening.

The slot races are part of the Aurora Wind Feeds/BUCKEYE Nutrition Barrel Futurity Derby and Slot Race being held over the Labour Day weekend at the Bill Gommersall Arena located on the Moose Jaw Exhibition Grounds.

The four-day event will see the best barrel racers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba compete in one of the largest prizes in the sport. 

Saturday evening’s slot race was the highlight of the four-day event with a $75,000 prize pool up for grabs and attracted such riders as 2021 Calgary Stampede champion Bertina Olafson from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan. Asked how she felt “winning this kind of money” Leischner laughed in joy.

Leischner claimed the Division One top prize of $10,500 with a run of 17.655 seconds to edge out second place winner of $7,500 Renie Schnitzler, who clocked in a 17.800 second run.

Third place and $6,000 went to Rusty Woodward, who was three one-thousands of a second slower than Schnitzler with a time of 17.803 seconds. 

Fourth place and $4,500 went to Bailee Switzer with a time of 17.904 seconds, with Dana Lovell claiming the fifth and final paying spot of $1,500 with a time of 17.932.

“Oh man, I am going to pay a lot of bills. It feels real good to have all of my bills paid…I think this year we might actually come out ahead so but that is not normal,” Leischner said which is a plus because her regular job is barrel racing and chasing the dream.

“This is all I do is ride barrel horses,” she said, adding “I am kind of in my rookie year in the CPRA (Canadian Professional Rodeo Association) but it is not going very well. So my horse and do a lot better in more of a jackpot setting with a little bit more better ground.”

Leischner said it was “absolutely worth the trip” wanting to thank her sponsors, Mill Iron Livestock for paying the $500 entry fee in the slot race and Rowan and Co her travelling partners and sponsors for bringing her to Moose Jaw.

“They are the reason I got to come here as I am too cheap to spend that money to enter and Rowan and Co is who I travelled with.”

Asked if for want of a better word a little crazy or eccentric to spend $500 to run a horse for a mere 20 seconds she replied “absolutely it is. It is a big commitment. It takes some guts that is for sure.”

Leischner said she has paid $500 at other jackpot or slot races but never had the result she had in Moose Jaw on Saturday evening. 

“Yeah (I have spent $500 before) fairly regularly. Probably more often than my husband would like me to.”

“I ran two horses but one is just young so the horse I ran today is my good horse. He is my boy. He is my good guy,” Leischner said. “He is seven…(his name is) Trooper and Famous Frenchmaster is his registered name.”

Co-organizer Nicole Hicks was happy about how the four day event has progressed and that the big event on Saturday went off without a hitch. 

“It was amazing everything went super, super smooth,” Hicks said.

About the track conditions — which the continued wet weather at one time threatened — Hicks said they were perfect and fast.

“It’s great, the rain really helped a whole bunch,” she said adding “this arena needed a lot of water. Either way we were using a lot of water from a water truck or rain. And rain came so,” she said.

Although there was still plenty of room in the stands — just over 100 watched most of the event — Hicks said she was happy.

“Oh the crowd was great. I think the stands were about a quarter full or maybe half full. At one point they were about half full so the turnout was really, really good.”

Asked about the tough competition vying for the $75,000 prize pool Hicks said the competition was intense.

“It was intense there was a lot of money on the line so you have that kind of money you are going to have a little bit of nerves for sure,” she said.

Hicks, who competed twice in the slot race, said the course was in good shape.

“I found it really, really good. My first horse just got a little bit strong and got by a couple of barrels. My next horse was really, really strong so you couldn’t ask for a better course.”

Asked if she would help organize and run another similar event Hicks said the plans are to hold the event annually.

“We plan to do this again next year, yeah…we can’t ask for better weather.”

With the event literally wrapping up at sunset, Hicks said there was a little bit of a push to get it done but it all worked out in the end. The prizes were given out in the dark with the presentation area lit with temporary work lights.

Both Hicks and co-organizer Kara Drake said they were very grateful to all of their various sponsors including Visit Moose Jaw and Aurora Winds Feed Limited.

The event continues Sunday and Monday and is FREE to attend.

  • Sunday September 5th from 4 pm to finish (Youth Divisions) 
  • Monday September 6th from 10 am to finish (Youth Divisions)

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