Twenty-four riders from throughout the province will be vying for the title of Stampede’s fastest woman and a crack at $10,000 in prize money this weekend at the sixth annual Wild Cowgirls Race.
Race organizer Monica Sellars said this year’s event filled up with participants in an hour and 50 minutes after entries opened for what will feature four heats of six racers on four separate days, then a final on Monday between the top eight to decide this year’s overall champion in a ‘Race for the Saddle.’
Each race will be contested on the three-eighths-of-a-mile horse racing track at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds.
“The top two from each heat race will show down in the finals on Monday, around 1:30-2 p.m.,” Sellars said.
Following a hard-fought, neck-and-neck battle last year it was Riske Creek’s Kaitlyn McClure edging 150 Mile House’s Lyndy Frieson at the finish in front of screaming fans in the Stampede grandstand to win the title.
McClure, however, won’t be back to defend her title in 2019 as she recently had a child, but Sellars said Frieson will be back as likely the odds-on-favourite to win, with a proven track record, despite a field of tough competition.
“I’m going with Lyndy,” Sellars said. “She definitely has a fast horse and she’s a local.”
Frieson also has the experience, and past results, to be considered a favourite, Sellars noted.
The Wild Cowgirls Race was a new endeavour created by Sellars in 2014. Not sure how it would be received, Sellars opened entries only to local participants.
“It was just a short little race and it was locals only, but we filled up the very first year,” she said. “We had races every day. We didn’t have an overall winner then. We just ran as separate races each day, but even then we paid out $600 a day.”
In 2015, Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin Society president Janice Sapp came on board with the race and to help Sellars put the event on.
“Janice and I have been friends for years,” Sellars said. “We wrote up a big set of rules, regulations, changed the structure of the race so in 2015 we did our first overall winner, and that was Kaitlyn Dorian [McClure].”
2016 saw the event continue to grow as word spread of its fast-paced, fun nature with organizers opening the race to any woman in Canada.
“We had girls from all over,” Sellars said. “Vancouver, Prince George, Fraser Lake, all those kinds of places, people from the Okanagan — everywhere.”
In 2016, McClure’s horse was injured in an unfortunate accident just 10 minutes prior to the race and forcing her out of the competition.
This left the door open for Frieson to make a name for herself in her first year competing in the Wild Cowgirls Race as she won her heat, and the overall championship buckle in 2016.
“2017 saw Kaitlyn come back and win again, with Lyndy coming second overall, which started kind of a neat thing. Lyndy was on a different horse that year, Zara, so for her to come in second on a different horse was impressive.”
Third place in 2017 went to Kamloops’ Sandra Mulvahill, while fourth was Michell Van Baalen of Rock Creek.
Coincidentally, 2018 saw the exact same overall finishes.
“Lyndy just about got Kaitlyn in 2018, but Kaitlyn managed to get her in the arena by a hair,” she said. “It was an amazing, photo finish, and it was awesome.”
A new incentive for this year’s contestants, the first-place winner will receive a saddle sponsored by Ellis Cattle Company.
“All the other years they ran for a championship buckle and we had payouts each day,” Sellars said. “This year we’ve got a saddle for the winner, which is pretty exciting.”
Each heat winner will also receive a buckle with first place hauling in $1,000, second bringing home $600 and third taking $400. Fourth place will get a breast collar made by Cariboo Saddlery and sponsored by BZ Logging, fifth wins a horse blanked sponsored by White Saddle Air Service and sixth will receive a prize bucket sponsored by Canso Equipment Service Ltd.
No one will ride away empty handed, though, as Sellars said each racer will get a prize.
Sellars thanks the event’s many sponsors, and said without their support the race wouldn’t be as amazing as it has been.
Aside from the 2019 championship saddle sponsored by Ellis Cattle Company, the following sponsors helped make this year’s prizes possible.
Reserve champion: sponsored by Aspell Contracting.
Heat race buckles: Irish Excavating and Contracting and Longhorn Fencing.
In addition, Sellars thanked cash sponsors Pelchat & Co., Lake City Denture Clinic, Elizabeth Durfeld, Chilcotin Towing, Bob Patterson Homes, Fix Auto Williams Lake, Woodland Tinntus and Hearing Clinic, Denise’s Dog Grooming, Antique Boutique, Monica’s Farrier Service and Cariboo Custom Monogram.
“A big thank you to everyone who donated and purchased items from our online auction,” Sellars said.
Heat Lineups (top two from each heat qualifying for the ‘Race for the Saddle’ on final day, July 1)
• Heat One (Thursday, June 27)
1.) Tish Johnny (Riske Creek) on Whitey
2.) Courtney Butler (Tatla Lake) on Jake
3.) Phairyn Lancaster (Lumby) on Booze Crooze
4.) Larissa Myers (Hanceville) on Nechako
5.) Jenn Anderson (Langley) on Buckles
6.) Sarah Geary (Fort Fraser) on Timmy
• Heat Two (Friday, June 28)
1.) Kimberly Kozak (Langley) on Nacho
2.) Amanda Lulua (150 Mile) on Trippy
3.) Shawna Brook (Williams Lake) on Tango
4.) Rochelle Pederson (Abbotsford) on Tango
5.) Rachel Lulua (Nemiah Valley) on Yellow Jacket
6.) Mary Charters (Prince George) on Titan
• Heat Three (Saturday, June 29)
1.) Kayle Hartman (Abbotsford) on Turbo
2.) Michelle Van Baalen (Rock Creek) on Kody
3.) Wendy Stad (Chilliwack) on Dudley
4.) Lyndy Frieson (150 Mile) on Zara
5.) Stephanie Quilt
6.) June Lulua (Nemiah Valley)
• Heat Four (Sunday, June 30)
1.) Tavlyn Oakes (Abbotsford) on Yankee
2.) Brittany Shopshire (Williams Lake) on Kid
3.) Donna Davidson (Huston) on 20X
4.) Sandra Mulvahill (Kamloops) on Who’s the Queen
5.) Silvana Huber (Vernon) on Yankee
6.) Maria Newton (Alkali) on Doc