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Courtesy of CPRA

Courtesy of CPRA

Thurston Stays Hot in the Desert

In his first three years at the WNFR, Big Valley, Alberta’s Zeke Thurston, despite winning the 2016 world title, had made only one victory lap at the Thomas and Mack Arena here in Las Vegas. In round nine of the 2018 Finals, Thurston won his second go-round of the week, this one with a spectacular 90 point mastering of Andrews Rodeo’s Brutus. The seldom-ridden gelding with one buckoff to his credit already at this Finals threw everything at the cowboy on his back but Thurston withstood all of it and was still there at the horn.

 

“They don’t call this the eliminator pen for no reason,” Thurston acknowledged. “That little horse bucks off a lot more guys than actually ride him but you just throw caution to the wind with a horse like that and go after him.”

Thurston has placed in eight of nine rounds, the only blemish on his 2018 resume a buckoff in round 4. Sitting third in the aggregate and sixth overall, it will come down to round number ten exactly as it should be. Heading to tomorrow’s final round, reigning champion, Ryder Wright clings to the lead with CoBurn Bradshaw leading the aggregate and sitting 9th overall. There are at least half a dozen men with a shot at the title moving to the final round and one of those guys is Zeke Thurston.

The second Canadian in the field, Nanton, Alberta’s, Clay Elliott, did not fare as well as his free hand came in contact with his mount, Cowboy Casino from D and H Cattle, at a heart-breaking 7.97 seconds.

In the bareback riding, the Canadian cowboy from Manitoba, Orin Larsen, placed for the third time in three nights. He was 86.5 on a Bridwell Pro Rodeo bucker called Ted to split 4/5 in the round and collect $8884 to climb back into 3rd place in the world standings. The Friday night cheque gives the long, tall four-time WNFR qualifier $75,727 with placings in five rounds in total, a remarkable performance by a man just three weeks removed from meniscus surgery on his left knee.

“To be honest, I’m totally ecstatic with the way the week has gone,” Larsen smiled after the ride. “I wouldn’t have believed this was possible when I was in the hospital and the doctor was telling me we’d have to re-think Las Vegas. I have to give so much of the credit to Sport Medicine. They’ve really done a number on me.

Reigning World Champion, Tim O’Connell won the round with a 90 score leaving the two-time titleist from Iowa very much in the driver’s seat as he sits first in the world and in the aggregate with one round remaining.

Recently crowned Canadian Champion steer wrestler Scott Guenthner kept his solid WNFR going as he matched Larsen’s performance with a 4/5 split of his own. After an opening round no-time, Guenthner has placed in six of eight rounds and sits 8th in the aggregate and 4th in the world. Teammate Curtis Cassidy checked in with a 4.7 second run and wound up 7th in the round just one spot out of the money. Cassidy sits second in the world but is well back in the critical aggregate standings. 2016 World Champion Tyler Waguespack inched closer to a second title. While his 5.1 time wasn’t fast enough to get a cheque in the round, the Louisiana man they call “Wags” is first in both the aggregate and the overall standings heading to Saturday night.

Round 9 in the barrel racing event saw some rapid runs from start to finish, with World leader, Hailey Kinsel, proving once again why she’s been in command through much of the 2018 season. The Cotulla, Texas cowgirl ran her fastest time to date – a 13.40 – from the bottom of the ground to move from eighth to seventh in the average and garner her third go-round win of the Finals. With nearly $340,000 in earnings, Kinsel continues to enjoy a commanding and likely insurmountable World lead. Canadian, Carman Pozzobon, ran clean once again (14.17) to maintain her first place ranking in the aggregate.

Stephenville, Texas roper, Sterling Smith, was the ninth go-round winner on Friday night with a 7.4 second run, a nice turnaround for a cowboy who has struggled at this Finals with four no-times to date. Three-time Champion Tuf Cooper is still atop the standings but is a distant 8th in the aggregate standings which means that, like the saddle bronc riding, the tie-down race is far from decided. 2015 Champion, Caleb Smidt, is well-placed heading to Saturday as he holds the head in the lucrative aggregate standings and sits 6th overall. What makes this race so intriguing is the fact that the top five men in the world standings are all at the bottom end or out of the aggregate standings with one round remaining.

In the bull riding Eli Vastbinder of Union Grove, North Carolina turned in the highest marked ride of the week, a spectacular 91.5 on D and H Cattle’s Sweet Pro’s Bruiser. Canby, Oregon’s Chase Dougherty kept his fine Finals going with a second place 87 score and moved to second place in the world standings as well but won’t be able to catch Texan Sage Kimzey who, on Saturday night, will be crowned champion for the fifth time in his remarkable five-year career.

Derrick Begay and Cory Petska earned their third team roping go-round win of the week with a 3.8 second run – their fastest of the Finals so far. The Arizona ropers moved from seventh to fifth in the average as a result and sit fourth and third respectively in the World Standings. The top two rankings in those standings remained unchanged heading into tomorrow’s final round with both teams – Clay Smith and partner Paul Eaves along with Kaleb Driggers and his heeler Junior Nogueira sharing the 2/3 spot in the round with identical 4.1 second runs. The two teams stay in first and second overall heading to the final round while in the all-important aggregate race, Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates are first but are well down in the World standings while Driggers and Nogueira are in second place with Smith and Eaves in 4th place. And all of that means it’s a one-head run for a world title come Saturday night.

For WNFR results, stories and highlights, go to http://www.rodeocanada.com

Courtesy of CPRA

Canadians Go Six For Six On Canada Night

Every year on Canada Night (Round 8 of the WNFR), Canadian flags are an even bigger part of the action than they are during the other nine performances.

And, with all six Canadian competitors getting to the pay window, Canadian fans were on top of the rodeo world.

In the bareback riding, Canada’s Orin Larsen followed up his 7th go-round win with an 87 point ride on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Pretty Woman, good for third in round 8 and a $15,653 injection into the Larsen bank account. That ride moved the Manitoba product to 8th place in the aggregate (average) and third in the world standings with only Caleb Bennett and defending world champion Tim O’Connell ahead of him on the season leaderboard. Shane O’Connell of Rapid City, South Dakota won the round with an 89.

Both Canadian steer wrestlers got to the pay window on Thursday night with Provost bulldogger, Scott Guenthner checking in with a 4.0 for third place while Donalda, Alberta’s Curtis Cassidy added a $4230 6th place cheque to his WNFR earnings. After eight rounds 2016 World Champion Tyler Waguespack has gone to the lead in the world standings, dropping Cassidy, (who at the moment is out of the aggregate) to second place. But first time finalist Will Lummus, from West Point, Mississippi, has placed in seven of eight rounds, leads the average and sits in 3rd place overall, just $14,000 behind Waguespack. Guenthner, coming off his first Canadian championship just a month ago, moved up one spot to fourth overall but sits well back in 8th place in the average.

The Canadian successes continued in the saddle bronc riding as two-time and reigning Canadian Champion Clay Elliott of Nanton enjoyed his best moment of the Finals so far with a sparkling 87.5 point ride on C5 Rodeo’s Black Hills, good for 4th place and $11,000. 2016 World Champion, Zeke Thurston, was right behind his teammate with an 86.5 point effort on Bailey Pro Rodeo’s James Bond. Elliott’s $6769 payday keeps him 4th in the aggregate and 6th in the world standings. Rusty Wright and Chase Brooks spilt the round with a pair of 90 point rides, which has become almost the commonplace winning score in the bronc riding this year. While Ryder Wright continues to sit atop the season leaderboard, there are several cowboys in hot pursuit including Thurston, the Water Valley, Alberta hand, who sits 6th overall but a strong 4th in the aggregate. Elliott is also in the aggregate at present, in sixth spot, and sits 10th overall.

But on Canada night, the Canadian contingent saved the best for the last. With the pressure mounting in the barrel racing event as contestants have struggled to keep the barrels up, Texan, Taci Bettis, earned her first round win of 2018 with a 13.57 second run. But Canada’s Carman Pozzobon took full advantage of her number one position on the ground as she ran her best time of the Finals so far – 13.70 and turned in her eighth clean run. With Jessica Routier hitting a barrel, the British Columbia cowgirl and her tremendous mare, Ripp (Ripn Lady), moved to number one in the very lucrative ($67,000 for first) aggregate. Texan Hailey Kinsel remains first overall.

Team ropers Bubba Buckaloo and Chase Tryan enjoyed the Round 8 win with a smoking 3.6 second run – the fastest time so far. And Clay Smith and Paul Eaves maintained their first place world standings ranking – a position they’ve held for the last three rounds – courtesy in part of a share of 2/3/4 tonight with a 4.1 second time – which paid $15,794 per man. And they sit fourth in the aggregate. 2015 World Champion header, Aaron Tsinigine, and heeling partner, Trey Yates, are still first in the aggregate (59.40/8) and hold down ninth and sixth respectively overall. Among the strongest contenders for a world title with only two rounds remaining appear to be the teams of Smith and Eaves and Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira (who despite not placing in round 8) are still second in in the average and second in the world.

In the tie-down roping, Ryan Jarrett, the 2004 World Champion, got off to a slow start at this Finals but has been lights out in the last three rounds including winning round 8 with a 7.3 second time giving him $55,000 over the last three performances. Three-time champion Tuf Cooper continues to lead the world and benefited from an inadvertent quick flag from the officials that gave him a 7.4 second split of 2nd and 3rd in the round. As well, the Texas superstar has closed to within $1000 of brother-in-law Trevor Brazile in the All-Around race.

The bull riding event was considered a lock before the WNFR began with the twenty-four year-old four-time champion, Sage Kimzey, having won over $300,000 before the week got underway. After round eight that saw Kimzey buck off for the fifth time in eight trips, the talented Texan is still in the driver’s seat but credit Chase Dougherty and Joe Frost with making it interesting. Dougherty, the Oregon bull rider, at his first WNFR, sits first in the average and 3rd overall with Frost, from Randlett, Utah, now sitting first in the average and 4th overall.

For WNFR detailed results, daily stock draws, stories and highlights, go to http://www.rodeocanada.com

Courtesy of CPRA

Orin Larsen – Overcoming the Odds

“You probably shouldn’t be going to the NFR.”

Those were the words of the surgeon who operated on Orin Larsen’s knee just three weeks ago and a week after the Canadian Finals Rodeo. The Manitoba bareback rider had torn his meniscus halfway through his final ride of the CFR. “And to emphasize his concern the surgeon added, “And if you do, there’s a risk of tearing that surgery apart again.”

And while the medical professional’s caution was understandable, so far Larsen has stared down the adversity and tonight put the exclamation point on his improbable comeback. Larsen, who is at the Thomas and Mack Arena for the fourth time, won round seven of the WNFR with a sensational 89 points on a cool Frontier Rodeo bucker named Tip Off.

“I was pretty cautious early in the week but I’m feeling more and more confident with it now,” Larsen noted. “I’ve been seeing the Sport Medicine team every day and they have been amazing. I owe them a lot for keeping me together.

“And that is such a good horse. Clayton Biglow had him earlier in the week and he made a great ride so I knew I had a chance. That horse is really up and down out there. Every time he hit me I just tried to hit him twice as hard.”

Larsen now sits 9th in the aggregate and 5th in the world. He did admit the knee injury has impacted one part of his Las Vegas experience. “I’ve had to cut back on Cowboy Christmas (western lifestyle market/trade show),” he grinned. “I can’t really handle that thirteen miles of walking.”

In the steer wrestling, neither of the Canadian bulldoggers hit the pay window in round seven. On a night when two world champions, Tyler Pearson and Hunter Cure, shared the victory lap in the go-round, newly-crowned Canadian Champion, Scott Guenthner, managed a 4.3 to finish 7th in the round, one spot out of the money. The good news is he moved up one notch in the aggregate and now holds the eighth and final payoff place there and is fifth in the world. Meanwhile Curtis Cassidy continues to lead the world despite a 6.1 in round seven. The difficulty facing the two Canadians in their quest for the world title is that Will Lummus sits second in the world just $15,000 back of Cassidy but Lummus is in the driver’s seat in the all-important aggregate that pays a whopping $67,000 to win it.

90 point rides were the order of the day in the saddle bronc riding as Wade Sundell and Chase Brooks split the round with identical nineties. Zeke Thurston, the 2016 World Champion from Big Valley, Alberta collected a fifth place cheque ($6769) for his ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Miss Ellie. Thurston has placed in six of seven rounds including a 1/2 split of round six. The 24 year-old sits third in the aggregate and fifth in the world, but trails world leader, Ryder Wright, by a very makeable $58,000. Nanton’s Clay Elliott did not make the horn in round seven and remains in 11th place in the world standings.

Round 7 in the team roping saw a tie for the win with 3.9 second runs for Luke Brown/Jake Long and Derrick Begay/Cory Petska. While Clay Smith and Paul Eaves remain in top spot in the World Standings, the pair experienced a set-back tonight by virtue of a no time in the round – dropping from second to fifth in the average. Kaleb Driggers and 2016 All-Around champ Junior Nogueira added a fourth place cheque to their WNFR tally and moved one notch up in the average to second spot. 2015 titleist Aaron Tsinigine and heeling partner Trey Yates remain contenders as well – picking up sixth place with a 4.9 to hang onto their number one average/aggregate position.

Fans enjoyed another speedy round of barrel racing with a number of thirteen second runs down on the ground. But it was the Cotulla, Texas cowgirl, Hailey Kinsel, who garnered top money for the third time at this WNFR with a 13.61 time in her bid for a first world title. Kinsel leads the world standings and sits third in the average. Savona, British Columbia’s Carman Pozzobon, clocked 14.01 from third position on the ground. While the run didn’t earn her a cheque, the 2017 Canadian Champion continued her climb in the lucrative average standings – moving up two notches from fourth to second spot.

2016 World Champion and a three-time Canadian title-holder, Tyson Durfey of Weatherford, Texas won round seven in the tie-down roping. Three-time champion of the world and reigning All Around Champion, Tuf Cooper, continues to lead the very tight tie-down race in an event that will almost certainly go down to the last few throws of the lariat on Saturday night.

Riding three of seven in the bull riding would be considered a solid winning percentage for most cowboys. But when that cowboy is the four-time world champion, Sage Kimzey, that’s as close to a slump as you’re likely to see for the Strong City, Texas superstar. Kimzey hit the ground prematurely in round seven, a go-round that saw Chase Dougherty taking home the big cheque courtesy of an 87.5 ride. Tennessee bull rider, Jeff Askey, has the hottest hand of all as he made his fifth ride in a row on Wednesday night, this one a fifth place effort with 84 points on the Wayne Vold bull, Mish Mash. C5 Rodeo’s Double Vision carried Roscoe Jarboe to 4th place in the round with an 84.5 point ride. Kimzey still holds a more than comfortable lead over the rest of the field with three rounds to go although a few guys, notably Dougherty and Askey are doing all they can to mount a late charge at the leader.

For WNFR detailed results, daily stock draws, stories and highlights, go to http://www.rodeocanada.com

Courtesy of CPRA

Thurston and Cassidy Hit Winner’s Circle in Round Six

It was another solid night for Canada in the saddle bronc riding as 2016 World Champion Zeke Thurston split the round with Nebraska’s Cort Scheer, both men recording 89.5 scores to tuck $23,480 into their Wranglers. Thurston’s ride came on the outstanding mare from Powder River Rodeo—Miss Chestnut.

“I’d never been on her but they’ve won lots of go-rounds here and lots of rodeos on her and I was really excited to have her,” Thurston commented. “She’d not very big but she’s got a big heart and she’s the kind we love to get on.”

When asked about how he’s feeling about things heading into the latter rounds of the Finals, Thurston was definite. “It’s too early to be thinking about anything but doing my job every night. You can only do what you’ve got control of. I used to get really mad if I bucked off or didn’t ride good. But since the birth of my little girl, Lucy, I know she’d gonna be my biggest fan no matter what I do at the rodeo. And (recently-injured bareback rider) JR Vezain is my good friend and I know how lucky I am to get up every morning and be able to stand up on my own. Those are the things that really matter.”

Thurston, who has placed in five of the six rounds, is splitting 2/3 in the aggregate and sits fifth in the world, very definitely within striking distance of the leader—reigning World Champion, Ryder Wright. Nanton’s Clay Elliott, two-time and reigning Canadian Champion, recorded an 85 score and was just one spot out of the money. Elliott sits sixth in the aggregate and 10th in the world standing after six rounds.

It’s been chicken or feathers for steer wrestler Curtis Cassidy at this WNFR. The 12-time Canadian Champion came to Las Vegas as the number one ranked bulldogger in the world. Round six saw Cassidy turn in his second 3.6 second run, both of those times resulting in go round wins for the Donalda, Alberta cowboy who is once again on top of the season standings. The down side (the feathers part of the equation) is the two no times in his results package, one in the opening round at the Thomas and Mack arena and the other in round five, sandwiched between the go round wins.

“Steer wrestling is probably the most humbling event in this sport, maybe any sport,” Cassidy acknowledged with a grin. “One day you’re on top of the mountain and the next day you’re at the very bottom. I remember Barry Burk telling me a long time ago that you try to win as much as you can every day because you don’t know what’s going to happen the next day. Although I have to say that the cheer I got from the women in the crowd last night when that steer ripped my shirt off might have been bigger than

the one I got for winning the round tonight.”

Cassidy laughingly referenced the friendly rivalry he has with fellow Canadian, Scott Guenthner who also rides Cassidy’s outstanding horse, Tyson. “I was probably more nervous with that steer tonight than any so far. Scott had him and won the round the other night so I didn’t want to screw up tonight for sure.” There was definitely no worry in that regard for the second generation cowboy as he extended his lead at the top of the world standings. Cassidy has $184,000 in the bank and a $28,000 cushion over Will Lummus who sits in second spot but is leading the average.

“I know I’m not in the average but my goal is to have $60,000 more won than the next-placed guy going into round ten because I’m not in the average.” (The average/aggregate pays a whopping $67,000 to win it.)

Guenthner, the recently crowned Canadian Champion turned in a 4.5 run in the round to split 6th place with Lummus. The Provost, Alberta cowboy fell to 4th in the world standing and sits 9th in the aggregate.

For the second night in a row a Canadian bucking horse was in the spotlight in the bareback riding. This time around it was the Calgary Stampede’s Tootsie Roll carrying the North Dakotan, Ty Breuer, to 88 points and the first place cheque of $26,230. 2018 Canadian Champion – Richmond Champion – rode another Canadian four-legged legend, Kesler Rodeo’s Street Dance, a nine-time WNFR qualifier, to a 2/3/4 split with 87.5 points. The payoff for the Texan was $15,794 and he shared the honours and the cash with Tilden Hooper and Steven Dent. Two-time and reigning champion, Tim O’Connell, continues to lead the world with Caleb Bennett and Clayton Biglow not far behind. The lone Canadian in the bareback riding, Orin Larsen, checked in with an 82.5 point ride and was out of the money. Larsen now sits 7th in the world standings.

A pair of Texans – header Tyler Wade and his partner Cole Davison – earned their first 2018 WNFR cheque and they did it with a vengeance – roping in 3.9 seconds for the round 6 win. But overall, the team roping event remains a tight race. Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates were long but managed a time of 19.5 to stay number one in the average with 48.4 seconds on six head. The pair sit sixth in the World – about $65,000 behind Clay Smith and Paul Eaves who are still in the driver’s seat as they remain first overall and second in the average after six rounds. A no-time for Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira dropped the team two spots – to third in the average but they still sit second in the World – just $30,000 behind Smith and Eaves.

Two time WNFR barrel racer, Hailey Kinsel, earned her second round win of the week with a solid 13.63 second run. Kinsel remains in her customary spot on top of the World standings and tonight’s win will help the Cotulla, TX cowgirl and her talented palomino ‘Sister’ as they slowly climb back up in the average after a tipped barrel earlier in the week. Jessica Routier picked up the second place cheque with a 13.72 and held on to the average lead for the second night in a row. The South Dakota barrel racer is one of only four contestants with six clean runs. Canada’s Carman Pozzobon – who has only one cheque to her credit so far is another cowgirl with all penalty-free runs. The Savona, BC talent kept the barrels up once again – clocking 14.10 tonight. Though not in the money, the first time WNFR qualifier is fourth in the average.

There were significant changes afoot in the tie-down roping. While Kansas cowboy Cooper Martin won his first round at this Finals, it was a miss by Texan Marty Yates that denoted the biggest change on leaderboard. While Yates sits second behind regular season leader (and Canadian Champion) Shane Hanchey, he plummeted all the way from top spot in the aggregate going into round six to 10th after the Tuesday miss.

And in the bull riding, Louisiana bull rider Dustin Boquet was a sparkling 91 points to win the round as world leader Sage Kimzey continues to hold a massive lead atop the standings despite bucking off his 3rd bull in six nights. The Canadian bull, Whiskey Hand, from Wayne Vold Rodeo carried Chase Dougherty to 88.5 points and second in the round, following up on the first round win recorded on the big brindle.

For WNFR detailed results, daily stock draws, stories and highlights, go to http://www.rodeocanada.com

Courtesy of CPRA

Nineties Night at the National Finals Rodeo

The grey did it again.

Virgil, the amazing 10 year-old gelding from the C5 Rodeo firm now holds the CFR and WNFR Arena records. A month ago, the two-time and reigning Canadian and World Champion Bareback horse was 90.25 with Jake Vold aboard to set the all-time CFR record. And tonight, with the California talent, Clayton Biglow’s hand in the riggin, the score was 93 spectacular points as the accolades and records continue to accumulate for one of the greatest Canadian bucking horses of all time. In a round when 86.5 points did not place, Manitoba’s Orin Larsen collected his second cheque of the Finals with his second 87 point ride. But where 87 earned the long lean Canadian a second place payoff in the third go round, this 87 score was good only for sixth in the round and a $4230 stipend. Tim O’Connell continues to lead the world standings as he vies for his third title in succession with the Utah cowboy, Caleb Bennett in second place and four-time World Champion, Kaycee Field in third spot.

And Virgil wasn’t the only Canadian in the nineties. In the saddle bronc riding, three-time World Champion, Zeke Thurston was a spectacular 90 points on Sankey Pro Rodeo and Robinson Bulls’ Marquee while the two-time and reigning Canadian titleist, Clay Elliott, was just a half point back at 89.5 on the Calgary Stampede’s outstanding Stampede Warrior. Amazingly, there were three guys with even higher scores—go-round winner Wade Sundell at 92, then Ryder Wright and Rusty Wright at 91 and 90.5 respectively. For Thurston the $11,000 cheque keeps him 4th in the aggregate and 7th in the world standings while the $6769 payday for Elliott represented just his second placing to date as he sits 10th overall.

Thurston was philosophical about the night. “That was a real good bronc riding,” he acknowledged. “The horses were amazing and everybody rode so good.” At the halfway point, Thurston’s happy with his Finals to date. “Yeah, shoot I’ve placed in every round so far except for last night when they threw me off right at the whistle. But I’m feeling great and I’m having a blast. Can’t wait for the next one.”

It was a little tougher night for the two Canadians in the steer wrestling. After Canadian Champion, Scott Guenthner won go-round number three and fellow Canuck, Curtis Cassidy followed up with a go-round win of his own on night number four at the Thomas and Mack Arena, the fifth round was not kind to the teammates. Guenthner managed only a 5.1 second time to finish 9th in the round and out of the money. And for Cassidy, the holder of twelve Canadian championship buckles, the news was even worse as the second generation Donalda, Alberta cowboy took his second no time of the week. While Cassidy continues to lead the world standings, he has fallen to 13th in the aggregate while Guenthner, the Provost, Alberta dogger dropped to 3rd in the world behind Will Lummus who won the round with a 3.3 run. Guenthner is in 10th place in the aggregate.

Header Clay Smith and his partner, former Canadian Champion Paul Eaves,­­­ bested the team roping field with a 3.8 second run and are now leading the world standings. But Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira who dropped to second place overall, lead the average while Smith and Eaves are in fifth in the all-important and very lucrative average standings (where the win pays over $67,000).

Carman Pozzobon who carries the Canadian colours in the barrel race was a 14.06 in the fifth round, good only for a 10/11 split but more importantly for the Savona, BC cowgirl, she is sitting third in the aggregate at the halfway point of the rodeo. Hudson, Colorado’s Ivy Conrado posted a 13.49 to win the round but Hailey Kinsel, the Cotulla, Texas barrel racer continues to lead the world standings as she moved past the $200,000 mark in season earnings.

Trevor Brazile, Ryan Jarrett and Reese Reimer all checked in at the 7.5 second mark to split first in the tie-down roping event for $20,871.79 each. For Jarrett, the 2005 World All-Around Champion, it was his first cheque of the finals. Shane Hanchey and Marty Yates remain 1-2 in the World standings, though neither man earned cheques in round 5. Yates was long – 14.6; Hanchey took a no-time. The result was a drop in average for both… Hanchey from 8th to 12th, Yates from 1st to 4th. Ryle Smith sits atop the average standings with 40.20 seconds on 5 head; 2015 World Champion, Caleb Smidt is just 3/100ths behind. This might be the closest race of the Finals with at least eight men, several of them former champions, with a shot at the gold buckle. And for Brazile, who is vying for his twenty-fourth—and maybe last world title, as he has announced he’ll be cutting back on his rodeo schedule and commitments when this season is completed—the “King of the Cowboys” extended his lead to $28,000 in the All Around race over his brother-in-law and last year’s Champion, Tuf Cooper.

The parade of 90 point rides didn’t end in the bareback riding and saddle bronc riding. Eli Vastbinder of Union Grove, North Carolina made his first ride of the 2018 WNFR a memorable one as he captured the round and the $26,230 with a 91 point effort on Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Record Rack’s Shootin’ Stars. Sage Kimzey inched closer to his fifth successive bull riding title at just 24 years old. The Texan was fifth in the round with a 78 point ride but maintained his massive cushion over the rest of the field with his $358,000 in season earnings, $140,000 ahead of the second place Montana bull rider, Parker Breding.

Courtesy of CPRA

Oh Canada—We’re #1 and #2 in Steer Wrestling World ­­­Standings

It was another excellent night for the Canadian steer wrestlers. Donalda, Alberta’s Curtis Cassidy blazed his way to an outstanding 3.6 second run for his first go-round win at this Wrangler National Finals. The veteran who has twelve Canadian titles to his credit, used the $26,230 winner’s cheque to move back to the lead in the world standings as he and Tyson, the Canadian Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year were flawless on a speedy night of bulldogging that saw four men check in with times under four seconds.

“It’s an uphill battle here every day,” Cassidy acknowledged. “The first night my horse had an off night and that’s just not like him. I was up the next morning at five am watching the videos from that first round. But last night and tonight with Scott and I winning the rounds—Tyson showed his true colours. There’s no other rodeo like this one–it’s like ten one-headers; you go from dust the first night to diamonds tonight. But my job is to score good, ride good and bulldog good and just go at ‘em every night.”

The second of the Canadian contingent, Scott Guenthner, followed up his third round win with a solid 4.1 run, good for a fifth place $11,000 payout to stay just $3000 behind his Canadian teammate in the world standings. Guenthner, the reigning Canadian Champion, has been making a statement since his opening round misfortune when, like Cassidy, he took a no-time. In the last three rounds, the Provost, Alberta cowboy has won over $50,000 with a ¾ split in round two, last night’s win with his spectacular 3.3 and tonight’s fifth place finish.

The barrel racing event become a whole lot more interesting after round 4 with first time WNFR qualifier, Jessica Telford running the fastest time of the rodeo (13.49 seconds), Amberleigh Moore earning her fourth consecutive go-round cheque (to retain the aggregate lead) and overall leader, Hailey Kinsel hitting a barrel and dropping from 2nd to 7th in the Aggregate.  But for Canadians, even more compelling was seeing Savona, BC cowgirl, Carman Pozzobon, earn her first-ever WNFR cheque – $4,230 for 6th place courtesy of a 13.76 second run on her mare Ripn Lady (Ripp).

In the bareback riding, Orin Larsen managed an 83 score aboard Scarlet Lady from the Bridwell Rodeo firm but that wasn’t enough to get to the money in the 4th go-round. The round victory lap was made by Caleb Bennett who posted an 86.5 mark for the win. Larsen, the Inglis, Manitoba hand, fell to fifth in the world standings that are still led by the two-time and reigning World Champion, Tim O’Connell.

It was e-pen (eliminator) night in the saddle bronc riding and the horses bucked off the first five cowboys out (and 11 out of 15 overall). Unfortunately for Canadian fans, two of those first five guys were the Canadians—2016 World Champion, Zeke Thurston and two-time and reigning Canadian champ Clay Elliott who will remain in 6th and 11th respectively in the world standings after four rounds. Northcott-Macza’s superstar bronc, Get Smart, made short work of the Iowa talent, Wade Sundell, who was no match for the four-time Canadian Champion on this night. The Calgary Stampede’s Tiger Warrior carried Ryder Wright to third place in the round with 85 points. The round was won by Rusty Wright who was 87 points for top spot but Cort Scheer continues to be the story in the bronc riding. The Ellesmere, Nebraska cowboy, a former Calgary Stampede champion and a five-time Canadian Finals rodeo qualifier is four for four, has won two rounds, leads the aggregate and has moved to 4th overall, just $40,000 back of the leader, Ryder Wright.

In another quick team roping round, WNFR qualifiers, Lane Ivy and Buddy Hawkins II, picked up their first round win of 2018 with a 4.1 second run for $26,230 each. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira (one of four teams who’ve roped all four steers… and the only team to be under 5 seconds on every run) continue to lead the average and the World standings in one of the tightest races of this year’s Finals.

Twenty-three time World Champion Trevor Brazile enjoyed his biggest night of this year’s NFR with a 6.8 second run in the tie-down roping – the fastest of the rodeo to date. The Decatur, Texas roper, who recently announced a limited rodeo schedule for 2019, remains in the lead in the All Around standings–just $7100 ahead of brother-in-law, Tuf Cooper. Shane Hanchey’s 7.4 second run – good for tonight’s 4th place cheque – helped move the 2018 Canadian Champion back into the overall tie down roping lead, though the all-important aggregate is shared for the moment by Ryle Smith and Marty Yates.

And the bull riding, despite the fact that the race has long been over, was not without drama. Four-time World Champion Sage Kimzey had to get on two bulls tonight—the second was Mo Betta’s Oh No and the bull put the almost unstoppable Texan on the ground at the five second mark, giving the go round win to Garrett Tribble with an 87. With that result, Tribble, an Oklahoma bull rider moved up to fifth place in the world standings. For the second of the four nights to date, only three men made the eight second horn. One of them was Athens, Texas’ Jeff Askey who was 84 for second in the round on the Outlaw Buckers bull, Red Pheasant

Courtesy of CPRA

Guenthner Goes to Lead in World Standings

3.3 seconds.

Yes, you read that right.

Scott Guenthner bulldogged his steer in a time that was just three tenths of a second off the arena record for the third go-round win, and the $26,330 pay cheque at the 60th Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. With that run, the Provost, Alberta cowboy moved to the head of the class as the world standings leader with $141,880 and an $8000 cushion over second place man and reigning world champion Tyler Pearson. Guenthner and Canadian teammate Curtis Cassidy have reversed the positions they occupied prior to the start of the finals as Cassidy checked in with a 4.1 to finish third in the round ($15,653) and sits third overall as well.

Guenthner called his shot to some extent as he talked about his misfortune in the opening round back on Thursday night. Guenthner had a steer that burst out of the chute and the result was a no time, that certainly hurt the Canadian champion’s chances in the aggregate.

“Yeah, that first night didn’t go as planned but you just have to blank that out,” Guenthner noted. There’s still a lot of go-rounds left and a lot can happen especially in our event with steers, horses and everything. There’s no point in stressing, you just go out and try to win every go round and hope that might be enough.”

And win the round is exactly what the 27 year-old did. With several doggers encountering trouble on night number three, it’s not out of the question that the Canadins could still get a little of the aggregate money on nine runs. Both Guenthner and Cassidy are riding Cassidy’s Tyson, Canada’s Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year with five-time Canadian Champion Cody Cassidy hazing for both cowboys.

It took a couple of nights but Orin Larsen brought his A-game to round number three of the 2018 Wrangler NFR bareback riding event. Matched up against the Calgary Stampede’s Trail Dust, Larsen shook off the effects of a leg injury that has been bothering him some and made an outstanding ride to finish second in the round behind two-time world champion Tim O’Connell who was 88.5 on the 2016 Bareback Horse of the Year – Craig At Midnight. Trail Dust is sometimes overlooked a little in a Calgary Stampede pen of bareback horses that includes Special Delivery, Reckless Margie and Xplosive Skies, among others, but this 11 year-old bay gelding is a perennial CFR and NFR horse as well as a final four selection at the Stampede. The 87 point ride provided the Manitoba product with a $20,730 injection to the Larsen bank account and sees him in 4th place in the world standings with $167,000 won.

Three for three. 2016 World Champion Saddle Bronc rider, Zeke Thurston, has been a picture of consistency at this year’s Wrangler National Finals. Thurston followed up a 5/6 split and a fourth place cheque in the first two rounds with another 5/6 split in round number three courtesy of an 86 point ride on Burch Rodeo’s Maria Bartiromo. And with the top two men in the world standings, Jacobs Crawley and Ryder Wright both having fallen well back in the aggregate, Thurston could be poised to be a big part of the championship conversation come the later rounds. Canada’s second bronc rider, the two-time and reigning Canadian Champion, Clay Elliott from Nanton, Alberta, was a solid 84.5 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Big Tex but was just a point and a half out of the money and is 11th in the world standings.

Stephenvile, Texas roper, Marty Yates, won his second go round in a row in the tie down roping, this time with a blazing 7.0 second run. Yates has now taken over the lead in both the aggregate and the world standings, dropping Tuf Cooper and season leader Shane Hanchey to second and third respectively.

In the barrel race, 2017 Canadian Champion Carman Pozzobon continued to be solid despite running on the bottom half of the ground for the third night in succession. The Savona, BC hand and her hard-running mare, Ripp posted a 13.87 to finish eighth in the round and just out of the money. However, Pozzobon’s three runs to date have her sitting eighth as well in the all-important, and very lucrative, aggregate. Salem, Oregon cowgirl, Amberleigh Moore, won the round with a 13.59 while Hailey Kinsel continues to sit atop the world standings after three rounds of NFR ’18.

A rapid section of team roping saw Derrick Begay and Cory Petska capture first place with a 4.0 second run. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira continue to cling to the overall lead but with several teams in contention, this race looks like it could go down to the last run next Saturday night.

In the bull riding, four-time and reigning World Champion Sage Kimzey and Utah bull rider Tyler Bingham spit the round with identical 88 point scores. And while Joe Frost is now three for three after his fifth place 83 point ride on C5 Rodeo’s Double Vision, Kimzey continues to lead the world with a remarkable $156,000 margin over the second place man, Parker Breding, with Frost now in third place.

Courtesy of CPRA

WNFR Round Two – Solid Night for Canada

It was bounce back night for Canadian competitors in round number two of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Both Canadian saddle bronc riders picked up cheques on Friday night at the Thomas and Mack Arena. 2016 World Champion Zeke Thurston picked up his second placing in two nights—this time surviving a wild ride and an even wilder get-off for 85 points and a 4th place $11,000 payday while two-time and reigning Canadian Champion Clay Elliot split 5/6 with an 84.5 score for $5500. For the second night in a row, Cort Scheer won the go-round, this time with a spectacular 92 points on a horse called Larry Culpepper from the Hi-Lo Rodeo Company but, best of all, this eight year-old roan gelding was Saskatchewan raised from the Art and Shawn Francis outfit. Thurston and Elliott now sit 5th and 9th in the world standings.

It didn’t take long for Scott Guenthner and Curtis Cassidy to get the ship righted. After both Canadian steer wrestlers took no times in WNFR round one, the Alberta hands came back with solid efforts on night number two. Guenthner, who just a month ago claimed his first Canadian title, bulldogged his steer in 4.1 seconds to split 3/4 in the round for a $13,692 cheque. Cassidy, who came to the NFR as the number one ranked steer wrestler in the world, checked in with a 4.3 and split 7/8 just one tick out of the money. Cassidy and Guenthner have fallen back to 4th and 5th respectively in the world standings after two rounds. The go-round was won by Tyler Pearson with a 3.6 run and with that the Louisville, Oklahoma cowboy went to the lead for the world.

In the bareback riding Canadian cowboy Orin Larsen was bucked off Powder River Rodeo’s Knot So Foxy. Larsen who looks to be favouring a leg injury he picked up at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, was limping as he left the arena after the ride. The round was won by Tilden Hooper who posted an 87.5 while two Canadian horses took cowboys to the pay window—Kesler Rodeo’s Uptown Flash (Steven Dent, 87 points for 2nd) and Calgary Stampede’s Yippee Kibitz (Mason Clements, 85.5, 4/5 split).

In the team roping, Clay Smith and 2012 Canadian Champion Paul Eaves topped the field with a 4.0 as Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira continue to lead the world standings.

The tie down roping is shaping up to be one of the closest races at this year’s WNFR as Marty Yates of Stephenville, Texas won the round with a lightning fast 7.6 second run. Yates is one of five men within $22,000 of the lead and is second in the aggregate as well with three-time world champion Tuf Cooper atop the standings after two rounds.

Carman Pozzobon, the 2017 Canadian Champion, rode her mare Ripp to a solid 13.81 to finish 8th in a blazing-fast round of barrel racing that was won by four-time Canadian champion, Lisa Lockhart from Oelrichs, South Dakota. Pozzobon, despite being well down on the ground for a second straight night was almost a half second faster than her opening night run.

On a night when the e-pen (eliminator) bulls bucked off twelve of fifteen riders including four-time and reigning World Champion Sage Kimzey, Utah cowboy Joe Frost made it two for two, winning the round with a spectacular 90 point ride on Powder River Rodeo Co’s Misfire. Bull of the Year Spotted Demon from the Big Stone Rodeo Inc. made short work of Oklahoma cowboy Garrett Tribble. Even with the buckoff, Kimzey continues to lead the world standings by a seemingly insurmountable $132,000.

For daily stock draws, round winners, results and highlights during the ten days of the NFR, go to http://www.rodeocanada.com

Courtesy of CPRA

Challenging Start for Canadian Contestants at WNFR

Night number one of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo wasn’t quite what Canadian competitors had hoped for. 2016 World Champion saddle bronc rider, Zeke Thurston, was the top Canuck as he rode Frontier Rodeo’s Griz for 82 points and a 5/6 split in the go round with season leader, Jacobs Crawley, for a $5500.00 cheque. Cort Scheer grabbed first place in the round with a pretty 86.5 point ride on the Calgary Stampede 7 year-old bay mare Y U R Friskey. Scheer’s win was one of two recorded on Canadian stock on opening night.

Thurston sits in 7th spot in the world standings, a very makeable $55,000 back of Crawley. Nanton’s Clay Elliott who won his second Canadian title a month ago finished just out of the money after his 80.5 point ride on Big Bend Rodeo’s Spotted Blues.

In the bareback riding, the lone Canadian, Orin Larsen, finished 9th in the round with an 82 point score on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Imperial Beach while Wyatt Denny rode Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Night Crawler for 87 points to win the first place cheque of $26,230.77.

It wasn’t the first round either of the Canadian steer wrestlers wanted to have as both Curtis Cassidy, who came to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as the number one ranked bulldogger in the world, and the number three man and recently-crowned Canadian Champion, Scott Guenthner, took no times on Thursday night. The round winner was the 2016 World Champion and recent bridegroom, Tyler Waguespack, who posted a rapid 3.6 to earn the go-round victory lap.

Kaleb Driggers and 2016 All-Around Champion Junior Nogueira put together a 4.2 second run in the team roping to capture round one honours. The Texan and the Brazilian continue to hold a comfortable lead in the world standings.

2015 World Champion, Caleb Smidt, won the tie-down roping with a 7.6 second run. Tuf Cooper and Trevor Brazile, the top two men in the All Around race both had to go to a second loop and finished well out of the money while season tie-down roping leader and recently crowned Canadian champ, Shane Hanchey, broke the barrier. All of this opened the door for several ropers, including Smidt, who were further down in the standings coming to Las Vegas.

In the barrel racing, 2017 Canadian Champion Carman Pozzobon and her tremendous mare, Ripn Lady (Ripp), running on the bottom of the ground, combined for a 14.24 second opening night run. The round was won by season leader, Hailey Kinsel, who was first out on night number one and dominated with a 13.51 to pad her lead in the race for the world title.

Bull Rider, Trey Benton lll was a sensational 88.5 points on Wayne Vold Rodeo’s five year old brindle, VJV Whiskey Hand, to win the round but four-time titleist Sage Kimzey continues to lead the world by almost $150,000 after yet another season of virtually total domination. Kimsey had Big Stone Rodeo Inc’s Mortimer and finished just a half point behind Benton. Chase Dougherty, competing at his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo rode Northcott Macza’s Chaba for 84 points for a sixth place cheque.

The 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo runs from December 6 – 15. For daily stock draws, round winners, results and highlights during the ten day event, go to http://www.rodeocanada.com

Courtesy of CPRA

Down to the Wire

Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

September 25, 2018 l Airdrie, Alberta

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  • Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

It’s a very special part of every rodeo season – the final few frenzied weeks of drama and tension as cowboys and cowgirls battle for the last qualifying berths to the CFR.

The second last regular season rodeo – the Dallas Sunstrum Memorial – had plenty of that drama September 21-22 in Brooks, Alberta.

Holden, Alberta barrel racer, Rene Leclercq, took a big step in the right direction with a blistering 14.388 second run to take home the first place cheque of $1317.83. Riding her ten year old mare, Flit, Leclercq knew the time was ripe for a big run.

“The girl I’m chasing, Justine Elliott, had gone just before and run a “4” (13.465) and I knew I had to go for broke so Flit and I went for the gusto,” Leclercq commented. “My mare felt really smooth and snappy in the turns; she was really good.”

The win moved Leclercq to 12th place overall, just $147 behind Elliott, and $1900 ahead of Renee Rae Willis who sits in 13th spot. The fly in the ointment, for both Leclercq and Elliott, is that Willis has qualified for the Grass Roots Final while neither of the other two have.

“I’ve been in this position before, where it comes down to the last rodeos,” Leclercq noted. “A couple of years ago, I missed entries for the Grass Roots and ended up missing CFR by just a few dollars. Last year was better as these last few rodeos and the Grass Roots Final sealed the deal for me for the CFR.”

As for the tension of having to wait for the Grass Roots results to know her own fate, Leclercq was philosophical, “There are people there who will be texting me, but to be honest, Renee (Willis) has a really nice horse and I’m okay with whatever happens. I’ve had a really good year, especially the last part of the season, no matter what.”

Another big mover at the Dallas Sunstrum Memorial was twelve time Canadian Champion, Curtis Cassidy, who topped the steer wrestling field with a 3.9 second run for $1210.93. The win was Cassidy’s second in a row (he won Oldstoberfest a week ago) and propelled the number one steer wrestler in the world to 12th place in the Canadian standings.

“I start every year planning not to be in this position in the last weeks of the season. Yet here I am again,” the Donalda cowboy chuckled. Cassidy leads the number thirteen man, Chance Butterfield, by less than $150 and the 14th place man, Brock Butterfield, by less than $600. The good news for Cassidy is that he has qualified for the Grass Roots Final – where neither of the Butterfield cousins have. That doesn’t mean if will be easy for Cassidy or any of the steer wrestlers scrambling for the final qualifying berths. Less than $2600 separates 9th place and 17th place in the standings with only the Grass Roots Final and the Hanna Indoor Pro Rodeo – both next weekend – remaining.

The races are equally dramatic in a number of other events – setting the stage for an action-packed Grass Roots Final September 27-28 at Stampede Park in Calgary and the Hanna Indoor Pro Rodeo September 28-30.

For complete unofficial Brooks results, Grass Roots Final and Hanna Rodeo information, go to www.rodeocanada.com

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