Bareback rider Keenan Hayes stars at 2023 NFR Open

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – This season has been a phenomenal one for rookie bareback rider Keenan Hayes.

Hayes arrived at the NFR Open powered by RAM first in the PRCA | RAM World Standings – and he showed why Saturday night.

The Hayden, Colo., cowboy had an 86.5-point ride on Championship Pro Rodeo’s Pass the Hat in the four-man showdown to capture the national title before a sold-out crowd at the Norris Penrose Event Center.

“The last couple of hours were awesome,” said Hayes, 20. “I’m super excited to be here in Colorado Springs and win this in my home state. That horse (Pass the Hat) had a little bit of a drop to her. I heard good things about her, and I saw her the other day in Prescott, Ariz. I was super excited to have that horse and I had to cock my hammer and keep going at her. I heard the crowd get really loud and that just made keep going and make the push.”

Hayes, who was representing the Mountain States Circuit, was thrilled to compete at the NFR Open.

“I’ve always wanted to win this back when it was the RAM National Circuit Finals and I was excited it got moved to Colorado Springs, and I got to get this win in my home state,” Hayes said. “All this is going to do now is just help out more (in the world standings). I have a lead and I’m just going to keep going at it and hopefully set a record.”

Hayes sits atop the world standings with $166,235. This year Hayes has claimed wins at Rodeo Austin (Texas), the Mountain States Circuit Finals in Loveland, Colo., and the San Angelo (Texas) Cinch Chute-Out.

“Nothing has really surprised me this year,” Hayes said. “I expect the best out of myself every time I get on one. I don’t want to do anything else but win. They have been running ones under me everywhere I have been and that’s been making my job a lot easier.”

Hayes advanced to the final-four Gold Buckle Round in the second position after recording an 82-point ride on Brookman Rodeo’s Joe Dirt. That set the stage for his victorious ride in the Showdown.

More than 200 of the top rodeo contestants from each of the 12 U.S. and Canadian Circuits, plus national champions from Mexico, converged on Colorado Springs, Colo., from July 11-15 for the 2023 NFR Open powered by RAM.

The NFR Open at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is one of the biggest rodeos of the ProRodeo season with $1 million in payouts to contestants, livestock and other PRCA members.

“This NFR Open is awesome,” Hayes said. “I just want to keep going at them and keep my foot on the gas.”

Other winners at the NFR Open were breakaway roper Maddy Deerman (3.0 seconds); steer wrestler Dirk Tavenner (11.2 seconds); team ropers Nelson Wyatt/Tyler Worley (4.4 seconds); saddle bronc rider Kade Bruno (85.5 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Sue City Sue); tie-down roper Garrett Jacobs (8.6 seconds); barrel racer Jessica Routier (17.69 seconds); and bull rider Trey Holston (89 points on JC Kitaif ProRodeos’ Rico Suave).

Bruno tied Cole Elshere in the finals but was awarded the championship by virtue of a higher semifinal score. The Texas Circuit was crowned the team champ.

Holston was the top money earner which allowed him to claim the RAM Top Gun Award and receive a voucher for a RAM truck.

courtesy of the PRCA

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