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He can win big in the city, he can win big in the country. Clay Elliott has proved over the last two weeks it doesn’t much matter where he is, but if you put the right bronc underneath him, he’s going to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Fresh off his saddle bronc victory at K-Days in downtown Edmonton, Elliott rolled into the ranching community of Pollockville for the second Hard Grass Bronc Match to cinch his saddle on to a couple of Calgary Stampede greats and forty per-cented ‘em.
Elliott felt right at home in the unique ranch-like setting for the Match.
“It is a neat atmosphere,” he commented. “It’s got people just watching because they’re true rodeo fans. I felt like I knew half the crowd. I had a lot of family there and a lot of people who are family friends who live and ranch around there.”
The Nanton cowboy took the long round with an 89 on Umber Bubbles, the second time the two had met.
“He had a little different trip with me, with a couple of ducks and little changeups in him this time but he was a nice horse. He had a really good day.”
But then came something bronc riders don’t get to do very often – select their own horse out of the Finals pen. Elliott says on the way out to Pollockville, he and Zeke Thurston and Taos Muncy had been talking about what horses they may have to choose from, and what would be the best draw.
It proved to be good homework for Elliott, when he earned first pick. There’d been discussion in the truck on how good the bareback horse Special Delivery was in the saddle bronc riding at San Antonio a few years back, and whether they’d have a shot at the stallion at this event.
Sure enough, there he was on the list, along with a lot of other contenders to make any bronc rider drool, including Tiger Warrior, that Elliott had chosen for the short round last year.
“This year I figured I’d try ol’ Special out and see what he was going to be like under saddle,” declared Elliott, who had to ask around for a best guess on what rein to give him.
“It was a bit of an unknown, but I knew he was going to buck and that’s all that really matters, I guess.”
The gamble paid off, when the two made a picture perfect combination for 92 points to be best of the Finals and sweep the average as well, resulting in a $9,980 payday.
“In a rigging he looks a little strong and a bit of a handful, but under saddle he was just really good,” praised Elliott. “He got in the air enough, had lots of timing, and I got a good go at him. He acted like he was quite familiar with the halter and a saddle.”
Special Delivery actually made his first CFR appearance as a saddle bronc when he was new to the rodeo scene. So will the tussle begin about which event should lay claim to the Grated Coconut stud?
“I’d love to have him as a bronc, but that’d be hard to take him away from the bareback riders. I know they like him quite a bit too. He could fit in either pen.”
The roll for Elliott continued into Montana as he won the Last Chance Stampede in Helena, with an 87 on the Kesler veteran Bookmark.
“I’d never had the chance to get on him (before). That horse is 23 years old so he’s just a year younger than I am. So he’s been around the game a lot longer than I have. He’s an ol’ campaigner that you can be high 80’s on, so he’s pretty special.”
With that $2,335, plus the K-Days win and what he put in the bank from Calgary, Elliott logged nearly $50,000 during the month of July. He’s bumped back his traveling partner Zeke Thurston for the number one spot in Canada and is climbing up the world ladder, officially sitting in eighth, with earnings now over $80,000.
Such heady success does not phase the even-keeled cowboy.
“It doesn’t change anything. I’ll still go to the same rodeos as I would any time else. It dang sure is a good boost, I guess.”
But his more immediate focus this week was a day at home to do laundry and enjoy his Dad’s cooking before getting back to the steady rodeo pace he’s been keeping.
“You can go to the gym and work out and be in really good shape, and get on a bronc and be sore. The way we’ve been entered is we go to five or six rodeos a week lately, therefore I’m in really good ‘bronc riding’ shape. Being able to stay healthy is the best part about it. Getting on broncs is one of the best workouts to do. The more horses I get on the better I feel and the less sore I am.”
The Hard Grass Bronc Match was one of two special events on the Canadian pro rodeo lineup last week. The other was the Bowden Bareback Challenge, where Gavin DeRose of Kamloops was the big winner. He split the first go with Dantan Bertsch and Pascal Isabelle, but pulled ahead with he took the finals with an 86.5 point ride to finish first in the average, for a total payout of $3,309. DeRose kept up the streak, placing second at Bonnyville and third at Bruce, for another $1,634.
“Right now things have been going well,” DeRose told Tim Ellis on his Ram Rodeo Report. “Everything’s kind of just been falling together. I’ve been drawing the right horses at the right rodeos and going to as much as I can up here and getting down south as much as I can too.”
“But right now I’m focused on getting to Red Deer. The chips have been in my favor lately, so I’m just going to keep rolling with it.”
Curtis Cassidy made his trip to the ‘Daddy of ‘Em All’ worth the miles, when he went to the bank of Cheyenne for a $10,864 impact on his year, for finishing fourth in the average. He added to that with cheques from Deadwood, SD and Lewiston, MT ($2,298) and is lurking behind world leader Tyler Pearson, in the number two spot. But just behind Cassidy is Provost steer wrestler Scott Guenthner, who did his own share of cash collecting. He was first in the average at the Days of 76 rodeo in Deadwood ($4,607), won Bonnyville ($1,665) and placed at Bruce ($882) to move up to third in the world and remain firmly on top in Canada. Also of note was Craig Weisgerber’s victory in Bruce, for the third time in his career ($1,449) while Tanner Milan did well in Medicine Hat and got some gas change from Bonnyville ($2,440), while Layne Delemont clicked for two cheques ($3,096) as did Cody Cassidy ($1,758).
There were lots of opportunities to cash in during the weekend’s busy Canadian schedule. In bareback riding, Cole Goodine managed to take first at Bonnyville, collecting at all four stops for $4,003, while Luke Creasy did the same ($3,662), including the Bruce Stampede win. Pascal Isabelle got three cheques ($3,563) while Ty Taypotat only got one, but made it a good one ($2,369) for the Medicine Hat win.
Other saddle bronc riders who factored high in the earnings department were Jake Watson ($7,095) who cashed in at Pollockville, Bruce and Medicine Hat; rookies Dawson Dahm, winning Bruce and placing at Bonnyville ($2,151); and Kolby Wanchuck, who split first at Bonnyville with Justin Berg and got a bit out of Bruce ($1,371). Zeke Thurston teamed up with Spanish Pair for 87 points and the Medicine Hat win ($2,527)
Al Bouchard had a good weekend of tie-down roping, winning the Bruce Stampede and tying for third at Bonnyville ($2,640) while Morgan Grant was second fastest at Medicine Hat and placed at Bonnyville ($3,394). Keely Bonnett placed in tie-down roping at Medicine Hat and Bonnyville ($1,856) but he and Logan Bonnett also got second in team roping at the Hat ($1,830 each). Kyle Lucas also doubled up, when he roped for dough at the Hat in tie-down ($1,782) and in Bonnyville in team roping with Dustin Bird ($978). Logan Bird was in the same boat, getting some tie-down dollars from Bonnyville ($1,040) and team roping ones with Stacy Cornet at Medicine Hat ($1,608).
And the beat goes on for Tristen Woolsey and Denver Johnson. Chalk up another team roping win, this time in 4.9 seconds at Bonnyville ($1,124 each) plus they also placed at Bruce with a 4.8 ($619) putting Woolsey in range of the regular season earnings record for a heeler, set last year by Jeremy Buhler.
Women on the Run
It was a Taylor Manning kind of rodeo weekend, as the teen ran away with the top spot from Medicine Hat ($3,126) but she was also in the speed zone at Bonnyville, where she finished second ($1,333). In the Canadian standings, that should move her right in behind the runaway Canadian leader Carman Pozzobon who kept her own rapid pace to the paywindow, by finishing second to Manning in Medicine Hat ($2,500) and also second in Bruce ($1,409). Kirsty White raced away with a $2,624 haul from her travels.
Dawson Creek bull rider Jacob Gardner was a multiple winner in the bull department, making eight count in Bruce for first ($1,142) and placing in Medicine Hat ($820). Austin Nash also got a pair of payoffs for his efforts at Bonnyville and Medicine Hat ($1,869). But another rookie, Saskatchewan’s JB Moen got the most, with his win in Medicine Hat, plus he finished second in Bruce ($3,494). That will bring him into the CFR conversation in the standings race.
The Canadian crew did some good earning at U.S. rodeos over the past week. 2016 World Champions Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler were second in Helena, MT with a 4.1 ($2,327 each) and placed in the opening round of Cheyenne ($2,073). Also at the Frontier Days, Zeke Thurston factored into the average ($3,749), while Dawson Hay was sixth overall and caught a bit at Helena ($1,969)
Jake Vold got some Cheyenne go-round cash ($2,680) plus a bit from Helena ($472). Luke Creasy earned $1,377 at Helena while team roper Kolton Schmidt and his partner Cole Davison pulled $2,158 each from Joseph, OR. Kolby Wanchuk finished third in Deadwood, and added in money from Lewiston for $3,386, with Dawson Dahm winning that show with 89 points on Domino Theory, and placing at Deadwood ($3,431). Steer wrestler Brendan Laye won Lewiston ($1,816).
In your weekly check-up on those Canadians with hopes of being in the world’s top fifteen to book a December Las Vegas appearance, here’s the numbers: Curtis Cassidy 2nd $83,359; Scott Guenthner 3rd $72,944 (Tanner Milan 20th $43,734); Orin Larsen 13th $62,555 (Clint Laye 16th $50,560, Ty Taypotat 17th $44,645); Zeke Thurston 6th $88,791; Clay Elliott 8th $78,737; Carman Pozzobon 10th $73,644.
There’s a mid-week rodeo underway in High Prairie, followed by Grimshaw August 4-5 and La Crete August 7-8 for the north run of the Canadian schedule, with the Jasper Heritage Rodeo featuring four performances August 8-11 this year in the scenic national park. But the big Finning Pro Tour stop of the week is at the Strathmore Stampede, running four performances August 3-6, daily at 1pm except for the holiday Monday, when the rodeo starts at 3 pm.
Those heading south will stop in places like Glasgow, MT; Dodge City and Phillipsburg in Kansas and Sentinel Butte, ND.