Clay Elliott might be the hottest cowboy on the roster heading into this year’s Calgary Stampede.
The 22-year-old saddle bronc rider is heading into the richest week in rodeo riding a hot streak that saw him pick up big cheques in both Airdrie and Ponoka last weekend.
“We get our draws a week or so in advance and I knew I had a really good opportunity at both Ponoka and Airdrie, so I knew I had to take advantage of it,” said the Nanton, Alta. cowboy of the past weekend.
“Rodeo’s based a lot upon your draw, not all of it but quite a bit of it. So anytime you get a good draw you really have to take advantage of it and I knew that that those were the two horses that I damn sure could.”
And boy did Elliott ever take advantage, as he posted an 85.75 on board a horse called Centre Stage from Kesler Rodeo in Ponoka on Tuesday afternoon to secure what would become a first place finish in the Long Go at that rodeo. The sophomore cowboy then went on to covered Devils Who from Outlaw Buckers for 84 points, enough to place second overall on the week.
Perhaps more impressive? He did both in the same day.
“To be honest it was just all about taking advantage of the opportunities, and it sure worked out,” said Elliott, who was also the champion at RodeoHouston this year.
The week wasn’t over for the Stampede rookie, either, as he spurred his way into a first place ride off with Jacobs Crawley in the Showdown at the Ponoka Stampede, but ended up coming away with a second place finish.
Still, Elliott said, the wins will be a big boost to a cowboy who is gunning for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this year.
“It’s all about consistency. Whoever wins the world this year is just going to be the most consistent guy around. So if I can keep that consistency up, I don’t have to hit all 100 rodeos in a season but I damn sure have to take advantage of when I draw good horses and so far it’s been going good.”
That consistency has been something that Elliott has excelled at this season, as he has already earned himself over $48,000 on the PRCA Circuit, enough to land him at 7th in the World Standings.
Now, as he heads into his first Calgary Stampede as a pro saddle bronc rider, Elliott said the goal is to try to treat it as business as usual.
“I still have to look at it as any other rodeo and take advantage of the good horses. From the outside looking in, it is a big rodeo. But the way I want to look at it is it’s just another horse, it’s just another place. I try not to overthink,” he said, adding that he’s not too worried about drawing a good bucking horse at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“All of the horses there that I’d be getting on at any rodeo anywhere else. I mean they’re all the best ones there, so my chances of drawing a good one are much, much higher.”
While this is Elliott’s first time going to the Stampede as a professional rider, it won’t be his first time stepping inside of that hallowed arena, as he rode there in 2012 to win the Novice Saddle Bronc Championship.
“I’m really looking forward to being there in my home province,” said Elliott, who also was the first alternate for last year’s Stampede.
The Vernon, B.C. native add that he had been planning on hitting up a few more rodeos before making the pilgrimage to Calgary this week, but decided against it, opting instead to rest up and be fully prepared when he takes the stage with the rest of Pool B next week.
“I’ll be good to go by the 12th.”
Story by Zachary Cormier, Everything Cowboy. Images by Covy Moore.