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A dose of hot August temperatures proved to be just what some bulldoggers needed to turn up the heat on their season.
Two-time Canadian champion Tanner Milan nodded for his steer during a sizzling Monday at Strathmore, and when the job was done the clock showed he’d just logged the fastest time of the show at 3.8 seconds.
“I wasn’t really happy with my draw because they haven’t done much on him,” admitted the Cochrane cowboy. “But I got some really good info from Cody Cassidy and Norman Breen. I knew the steer was a lot slower. I wasn’t expecting to be that fast on him. I wanted to get out of the barrier and just throw him down and get a cheque.”
“I surprised the heck out of myself, actually. It was awesome. I can’t believe it.”
The well-timed win was worth $5,584, and coupled with a fourth place cheque from the average at Great Falls, MT ($1,308), will go a long way to his NFR hopes.
“Big time,” grinned Milan. “I think I was about $7,000 out of 15th before this week, so I’m going to be knocking on the door.”
This was the second time Milan has captured the Strathmore buckle, a rodeo he seems to always pull a good cheque from.
Brendan Laye was happy to revisit and repeat at a pair of rodeos on his ‘favorite’s list. The Consort steer wrestler got one topped over in 4.1 seconds to win Grimshaw ($1,503) and also split High Prairie with Milan’s traveling partner Bridge Chambers, when both made 3.9 second runs ($1,556).
“Actually, in the last three years I’ve split High Prairie twice and won it once, and Grimshaw I’ve won the last two years too, so I guess those ones up there have been good to me,” said Laye. “I don’t know what it is, but it just seems to go my way at them.”
“There’s a lot of guys fighting it out for the bottom end spots for the CFR, so I’ve definitely got to do some more winning. You’ve got to just keep doing the best you can, and hopefully it works out.”
The double victory should help move Laye from 19th in Canada to the top ten in an always tight battle. Also helping his CFR cause was Dallas Frank, who placed at both Strathmore and High Prairie ($3,350) while Brock Butterfield finished third at Strathmore, and dipped into the Grimshaw jackpot ($5,413).
It took three horses, but Clay Elliott didn’t mind. He made the most of his third match-up, OLS Tubs Little Muffin, by spurring to an 87 and first place at Strathmore for the second straight year, to add a $6,227 boost to both his Canadian and world saddle bronc rodeo accounts. Call Marr of Twin Butte gave new hope to his season by placing third at Strathmore, winning nearly double what he’d collected so far this year, with a $4,151 payday. Ricky Warren topped High Prairie ($1,298), while it was Justin Berg winning Grimshaw, plus he caught some cash from High Prairie as well ($1,818). Kolby Wanchuk got second at both the northern shows ($2,060), while a fourth place finish ($3,373) for Tyrel Larsen from Strathmore fits his Canadian program well.
Tyrel’s brother, Orin Larsen, rode the Calgary Stampede horse Trail Dust to a spectacular 89.5 for the biggest bareback cheque from Strathmore ($5,866) but Richmond Champion was only a quarter point behind him on True Grit, so he pads his number one spot in Canada. Dantan Bertsch, who had been in 13th, put together an $1,818 weekend for his efforts at Strathmore and High Prairie.
At the two northern stops on the Canadian run, there were only two qualified bull rides. JB Moen of Saskatchewan took home all the marbles from Grimshaw ($1,192+$2917 ground money) while Kane Larsen, who is the youngest of the Manitoba trio of rodeo brothers, put his name on the map for the High Prairie win ($5,298, including $3364 ground money). Moen also placed at Strathmore ($1,278). Meanwhile world bull riding dominator Sage Kimzey makes his Canadian trips count. He rode Heaven’s Basement at Strathmore to 89 points for a $6,136 payoff, but Jordan Hansen was in fine form as he took second place with an 87.75 ($4,858). It was the last ride the soon-retiring Scott Schiffner will make at the Strathmore Stampede and his hometown fans showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. But his 86 point performance ($2,685) brings him a step closer to making his grand finale at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
Life has changed for three-time Canadian tie-down roping champion Tyson Durfey, with a two-year-old and a home in Texas. But he still feels at home among friends north of the border, and he took home $6,091 worth of Canuck hospitality after winning the Strathmore Stampede in 7.4 seconds.
“I told my wife at the beginning of the season that I’m going to really try and be as focused at the first rodeo as I am at the last rodeo,” explained Durfey, the 2016 World Champion. “This rodeo is the 56th for me this season. I’ve gone to a lot less this year than in years past, but have been more focused. I really did that by design, to not drag my family all over the country.”
“We’re going to a few more national parks, and walking and going to the swings, and going to the lake” he chuckled.
The approach seems to be working, in spades. With the Strathmore win, Durfey is on top of the world standings, with his earnings well over the $100,000 mark already, something he’d only done for the first time last year, and that was after going to 95 rodeos.
“My mind is better than it’s ever been, my body’s in great shape. My horse Nikko has been just unbelievable. And the time’s I’ve been able to fly up and go to these great rodeos in Canada, I’ve been on the best horse, Curtis Cassidy’s horse Stick. We’ve clicked for a long time and I’ve won a lot on him over the years.”
Durfey’s long-time friend Al Bouchard had a good August long weekend run, only a notch behind Durfey at Strathmore. His 7.8 second time split second with Tuf Cooper and Morgan Grant, netting them each $4,907. Bouchard also split second at High Prairie ($1,235). Canadian champion Logan Bird placed at all three shows ($3,374).
Strathmore was a huge win for the team roping duo of Trent Tunke and Trey Gallais, who snagged one in 4.6 seconds, for $3,490 each.
“Everybody said that was the steer you wanted,” said Gallais, the header. “So I tried to stay off the line a little bit and wait for him. Sure enough, he just threw his head up and waited for me right there. I just took my first throw and Tunke just got around and caught him. It worked out good.”
“Those ones scare me when they’re slow like that, because you know you’ve got a good shot of winning it. But he just rolled around there nice and everything set up good,” added Tunke.
The two had roped together in the past, but when Gallais broke his wrist and was out for a bit, they went their separate ways. But it was clear they were better together, so they hooked up again two weeks ago, and this was an encouraging win.
“This is a little bit of weight off a guy’s shoulders,” said Gallais. “I’ve only got two thousand won and I’m on the outside looking in. So now we’ve got a bit of a chance. There’s some hope there anyway that we can get (CFR) done.”
“It gives us some (Finning) Tour points, which is good because it could give us another run in Armstrong,” Tunke noted.
Brett and Justin McCarroll took home $3,199 each for finishing second at Strathmore in 5.3 seconds. Canadian and World champions Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler took first at High Prairie ($2,421 each) while Dillon Graham and Dawson Graham won Grimsahw ($1,015 each). Tyce and Tuftin McLeod placed in both northern stops ($2,105) while Kolton Schmidt and Cole Davison placed at all three ($2,808).
B.C.’s Carman Pozzobon was relieved to see Ripp back in fine form after the busy July run and some long hauls, as they clocked the best barrel racing time in Strathmore at 17.199 ($6,510).
“She was off just a tad so I had to get her back. The last couple days I’ve been doing a whole bunch of treatments to her, trying to get her a hundred per cent,” said Pozzobon.
“I was surprised she actually came out and did that today. She’s feeling better, but she’s still getting a week off and then we’re going south.”
Pozzobon added in a fourth from Grimshaw ($663) to extend her lead in Canada. But teen sensation Taylor Manning is doing her best to keep up. She finished second in Strathmore and placed at High Prairie for a $6,765 boost. Angela Ganter won Grimshaw, but caught money at all three ($2,390) while fellow Texan Shelby Spielman was first at High Prairie and second at Grimshaw ($2,260).
Montana provided some good money for Canadians in the past week. Connor Hamilton topped the bareback riding at Great Falls with an 87.5 ($3,378) while Jacob Stemo took Sidney with an 87 ($1,884). Hamilton also placed at Sandpoint, ID ($998), where Pascal Isabelle was second ($1,387). Orin Larsen was the victor at Castle Rock, CO for an 85.5 point ride ($2,764) while Luke Creasy collected cash from Great Falls, Glasgow and Sandpoint ($1,078). Clint Laye placed fourth at Great Falls ($1,239) while Ty Taypotat got some money from Idaho Falls ($1,073).
Curtis Cassidy was the fast steer wrestler there and his four second run netted him $2,400, with Straws Milan also placing at Idaho Falls ($835). Brendan Laye went to the pay window at Great Falls ($1,028) while Harley Cole split third at Sidney ($1,180).
Among the Canadian saddle bronc riders winning stateside, Clay Elliott netted the biggest returns, picking up $4,524 for finishing third in the average at the Home on the Range Champions Ride in Sentinel Butte, ND. He also got a bit out of Glasgow and Phillipsburg, KS ($680). Zeke Thurston managed to collect $3,131 from Sentinel Butte while older brother Wyatt Thurston finished third at Sidney ($1,183). Keenan Reinhardt ($1,452), Sam Kelts ($1998), Jake Watson ($1,350) and Tyrel Larsen ($734) also picked up some cheques over the past week.
Kolton Schmidt and Cole Davison won the team roping average at Great Falls for a $4,350 boost each.
On the world standings roster, Curtis Cassidy is still number two for steer wrestling ($78,116) as well as fifth in the All-around race. Scott Guenthner sits third ($72,944) with Tanner Milan up to 19th ($45042) before his Strathmore winnings are included. Zeke Thurston is 5th now in saddle bronc riding ($91,905) with Clay Elliott in 8th ($83,916). Orin Larsen is 13th among the bareback riders ($65,319), while Clint Laye is 16th ($51,799), Ty Taypotat 18th ($45,334) and Luke Creasy 20th ($44,332). Carman Pozzobon hangs on to her number ten position in the barrel racing ($77,553).
The La Crete Field of Dreams Stampede will wrap up its two performances August 8th. Jasper starts that day and runs to August 11th, marking a date change for the historic four performance show in the national park. The Finning Pro Tour stop of the week is in Dawson Creek, where there will be three performances August 10-12.