Largest barrel-racing event in Canada coming to CalNash Centre

DJT Photogarpghy - Red Deer - Central Alberta - Calgary - Edmonton - Olds - Photographer 20150801-IMG_1182Over 1100 horses and 750 riders will descend on the CalNash Centre in Ponoka for the 20th annual ABRA (Alberta Barrel Racing Association) finals.

Held from August 19 to 23 the ABRA finals are the largest barrel-racing event in Canada, and in 2014 were second highest added money barrel-race in North America.

“This year, the added money is $119,600, and the total payout between cash and prices will top $217,000,” said ABRA Office Manager Jill McDougall. “Last year we had the sixth largest payout in North America.”

“For us to be rated the second highest added money is a really big deal. Especially when you look at all the events that are hosted in Oklahoma, Texas, California and the rest of the United States.”

“Texas has more horse than all of Canada, so it’s a lots to be proud of,” added McDougall..

Added money is money that added to the pot on top of the entry fees.

“It comes from a combination of sponsors, and final entry fees at races through the year,” said Janet Patriquin, public relations director for the ABRA.

“We have competitors as young as four, and the oldest is in their late 70’s so barrel-racing is something that the whole family can participate in,” said Patriquin.

The association has over 2400 members, and of that, six have been ABRA since the start and have ridden in the finals every year. “They will be honored at a banquet on Friday night,” said Patriquin.

The other highlight of this year’s finals, according to Patriquin, will be the Peewee barrel-races which will be held on Saturday at 4 p.m. “Everybody loves the Peewees, they put more sparkle and color in their hair. That’s the highlight of the event.”

There is no charge for any of the barrel-racing events, and there is a free tradeshow all weekend. For those that cannot make it to the centre, there will be a live webcast.

In the open, there are 780 horse and riders entered. The youth have 270 horse and riders, and the Peewees have 61 horse and riders.