Jackie Crawford and Martha Angelone Emerge Victorious at 2023 Texas Circuit Finals

It was a clash of the titans at the Texas Circuit Finals, with reigning Breakaway World Champion Martha Angelone taking the year-end championship and 20-time World Champion Jackie Crawford winning the average.

Jackie Crawford and Hail Mary compete at the Texas Circuit Finals
Hail Mary stepped it up for Jackie Crawford at the 2023 Texas Circuit Finals, allowing her to take the average title by a landslide. Photo by James Phifer

For Texas Circuit Year-End Champion Martha Angelone and Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo Champion Jackie Crawford, the event in Waco, Oct. 10–13, 2023, was a tale of two very different experiences.

While Angelone threw past the softer cattle on her fast-footed gelding, “Legend,” and hung on for the year-end, Crawford’s palomino mare “Hail Mary” showed she was ready to be a rodeo horse.

No matter the methods of victory, both ladies are qualified to scoop up some mid-summer cash at the 2024 NFR Open in July.

Texas Circuit Finals Average Champion: Jackie Crawford

Crawford secured the average championship with a time of 10.8 seconds on four head, placing in each round and winning a total of $9,125.

“The very first run of the Circuit Finals, I drew a good calf, and Hail Mary made it easy for me,” Crawford said. “It didn’t feel like anything was a struggle. She still does some green stuff in the box, but she stood up great three out of the four runs—stood flat-footed, and I felt like I could see whatever I wanted to see.”

The duo roped in 2.4, 2.4, 2.6 and 3.4 seconds in each round, putting on a consistent performance that topped No. 2 roper Josie Conner by more than 10 seconds.

“I just wanted to hit the barrier and make as simple runs as I could,” Crawford said. “As I watched how the first and second nights unfolded, I was thinking, ‘If you can get another down, you’ll be sitting good.’ By the fourth calf, when I caught him, I knew I was good.”

Crawford’s been roping on Hail Mary since the first of the year. The grade mare is from the same breeding program as Crawford’s famous “T-Boy,” although it’s unknown how closely related the two are because of a pasture breeding situation.

“Before I got her, her owners had taken her to NRS maybe once,” Crawford said. “When I first took her somewhere it was an absolute trainwreck. I was mucking people out. I looked like a bulldogger coming in there. She’s definitely come a long way since then.”

While Hail Mary may not meet someone’s ideal image of a breakaway horse, Crawford said the mare’s stride and feel fits her swing well.

“She’s so ill-broke it’s not even funny,” Crawford said. “But you look back at some great horses: they’re not the brokest or the fanciest—they’re just winners. She’s already let me win a ton on her, even though she’s green and makes mistakes.”

After the summer run was over, Crawford said she turned bay gelding “Kevin” out to rest, forcing herself—and Hail Mary—to figure it out. Now, the pair are looking toward Las Vegas in December and beyond with more than $9,000 in 2024 earnings already.

Texas Circuit Finals results

First round: 1. Martha Angelone, 2.3 seconds, $2,212; 2. Jackie Crawford, 2.4, $1,659; 3. Tacy Webb, 2.7, $1,106; 4. Bradi Good, 2.9, $553.

Second round: 1. Hali Williams, 2.1 seconds, $2,212; 2. (tie) Jackie Crawford and Taylor Hanchey, 2.4, $1,383 each; 4. Tierra Zapalac, 2.5, $553.

Third round: 1. Tacy Webb, 2.3 seconds, $2,212; 2. Taylor Hanchey, 2.5, $1,659; 3. Jackie Crawford, 2.6, $1,106; 4. Aspen Miller, 2.7, $553.

Fourth round: 1. Taylor Hanchey, 2.2 seconds, $2,212; 2. Bradi Good, 2.6, $1,659; 3. Aspen Miller, 2.7, $1,106; 4. Jackie Crawford, 3.4, $553.

Average: 1. Jackie Crawford, 10.8 seconds on four head, $4,424; 2. Josie Conner, 21.5, $3,318; 3. Taylor Hanchey, 7.1 on three head, $2,212; 4. Tacy Webb, 8.1, $1,106.

Like many circuits, Texas Circuit breakaway ropers had to fundraise for the added money in their Circuit Finals. Angelone was a big voice in raising money for Texas, with sponsors such as Purina donating products for the public to bid on in a silent auction. The Texas Circuit Finals boasted $22,121 in added money for breakaway ropers in 2023, a tick shy of the approximate $24,500 added in each of the other events. 

Texas Circuit Year-End Champion: Martha Angelone

Martha Angelone and legend rope at the Texas Circuit Finals
Martha Angleone held on for the Year-End Championship despite a bumpier-than-normal Circuit Finals. Photo by James Phifer

Angelone outlasted the rest to clinch the Texas Circuit Year-End Championship with $25,466 won throughout the season, winning Round 1 at the Circuit Finals to earn $2,212 and cap off the year.

She battled with Hali Williams throughout the summer and held off a late charge by Taylor Hanchey at the Circuit Finals, where Hanchey earned $7,466 to finish in No. 2 with $22,305.

Angelone’s top Texas Circuit paydays:

Rio Grande Livestock Show & Rodeo, Mercedes, Texas—tie for No. 2, $3,361

Waller County Fair & Rodeo, Hempstead, Texas—tie for No. 5, $1,316

The Texas Circuit is the richest of them all, which turns into a double-edged sword for competitors battling for the year-end honors. A big win at a circuit rodeo such as the Tri-State Fair and Rodeo in Amarillo can net a roper $3,400, giving them a big boost and disrupting the standings. 

Coming into the Circuit Finals and having won titles the last three years, Angelone had high expectations. Astride Spots Lil Legend, Angelone won Round 1 with a time of 2.3 seconds. From there, things went downhill, with Angelone missing the slower calves.

“Legend’s so fast and all the calves I had were loping,” Angelone said. “I was just throwing it past them. I was gaining on them and not reading them how I was supposed to. I don’t practice off him much, and the horses I do practice on aren’t as fast as him. So, when I get on him, I forget how fast he is.”

Although disappointed, Angelone expressed her gratitude to be able to take the Year-End title.

“Honestly, I’ve always had a really good circuit finals, so not doing well this time just makes me hungry to get back out there and get going,” Angelone said. “In 2024, I want to prioritize the same thing I did this year: Place at every rodeo I enter. Two years ago, I was bad about trying to win every single rodeo and messed up a lot. Now, I just want to place.”

Texas Circuit 2023 year-end standings

1Martha AngeloneStephenville, TX$25,466.28
2Taylor HancheyCarmine, TX$22,305.15
3Jackie CrawfordStephenville, TX$21,922.89
4Hali WilliamsComanche, TX$21,055.65
5Bradi GoodAbilene, TX$20,285.93
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