Kincade Henry is making the most of his first trip to the NFR. The 20-year-old rookie posted a 7.1 to nab a Round 7 that fell apart, with half of the ropers coming up with empty loops.
“I tried not to watch the guys in front of me because I don’t want those misses in my mind,” Henry said. “I told myself I wanted to win third in the round [tonight]. I said, ‘I just want to make my run to build my confidence through these next three go rounds.’”
The reigning National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association National Champion’s mindset paid off. Henry earned $28,914 for the round, which brought his total NFR earnings to $115,161.92.
“I knew I had to get a good start, and I ran to my spot and made my throw,” Henry said. “I had a great go out of the stirrup—one of the best goes I’ve had all week. I felt like I was flying down the rope.”
Once he made it to the calf, Henry’s momentum didn’t waver.
“A soon as I hit her and flanked her, I put a hooey on her and got out of there,” Henry said. “I wasn’t sure if she’d take a hooey or not, but I’m out of the average, so my hair is down. I have nothing to lose. Tonight, I just told myself, ‘I just want to go catch this calf.’”
The strategy came after Henry found himself swinging for the fences in Round 6, following Shad Mayfield’s arena-record-tying 6.5 run. It resulted in a fruitless loop.
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“The NFR is ups and downs, and I’ve made some bonehead rookie mistakes,” Henry said. “But I can learn from those and keep building. All of this is building confidence and I am learning lessons for the next couple of years because World Championships are my goal.”
Mario Powers Up in the Thomas & Mack
Following second-place finishes in the first and third rounds, Henry’s bay horse, “Mario,” shone in Round 7.
Henry purchased Mario in 2021, and they were just getting in a groove together when Mario was injured at Calgary on the 2022 summer run. Fortunately, Henry had a familiar mount in the wings to pick up the slack.
Riding his cousin’s Cougar Racca’s horse “Darrell,” Henry finished strong in the last 20 rodeos of his season to snag his NFR ticket. Although Darrell clinched, Mario made his first runs for money after his injury under the Vegas lights.
With Mario back in the picture, Henry aims to maximize the final three rounds in the Thomas & Mack.
World Standings Race
Caleb Smidt grew both his average and world standings leads Wednesday night to $23,149 over No. 2 contender Shad Mayfield. A run of 10.40 seconds on a strong calf earned Smidt $12,125 in the round.
The finish came after a sobering Round 6, in which Mayfield tied the arena record. In Round 7, Mayfield used his second loop to tie in 19.0 seconds, keeping himself in the aggregate race.
Smidt is one of nine ropers who have caught and tied seven, and his aggregate time of 56.02 seconds boasts an 8.1-second lead over No. 2 NFR average contender Cory Solomon.
Henry may not be focusing on the world standings drama, but he shared his input on early predictions.
“I don’t care if Smidt’s ahead or Shad’s ahead, at the 10th round, nothing is going to be over because these calves,” he said before pausing. “Well, the draw is going to come into play in the 10th round.”