They call them the TV pens in the sport of rodeo.
The reference is to the best of the best in terms of the horses and bulls in the riding events. And Friday night’s third round of the Canadian Finals Rodeo proved that the term is very apropos. Both the bareback riding and saddle bronc riding saw cowboys put up huge scores on the backs of many of the best animals in the sport.
But it was the bull riding that proved all those who predicted a memorable night in the riding events were bang on.
Reigning Canadian Champion Edgar Durazo matched up with Vold’s Upshift, a four-year-old brindle that was spectacular. But Durazo, who had uncharacteristically bucked off his first two bulls of the Finals, was even better. The result was the highest marked ride of CFR 47 to date—92.25 points for the Mexican-born Canadian vying to make it two titles in a row.
“That’s a bucking bull right there,” Durazo grinned. “He was incredible. I kept tracking him. He got better at the end. After four seconds of spin he just started going up and down and kicking really hard—a really good bull.”
Durazo didn’t change his approach despite having gone 0 for 2 in the first two go-rounds. “That first bull was hard and he bucked me off, that’s okay, I go home have dinner with my family, get ready for the next one. The second bull—it was the spinner pen but he was an eliminator and he bucked me off. But I go one at a time… that never changes. And tonight I feel great.”
The scores were only slightly less spectacular in the two horse events as season leader Dantan Bertsch posted an 88.75 score on C5 Rodeo’s Black Feathers. The resulting 9360 points vaulted the Tompkins, Saskatchewan cowboy back into contention after a couple of mediocre results in the previous rounds.
And in the saddle bronc riding, Arrowwood, Alberta cowboy Kole Ashbacher evened the score with the Saddle Bronc of the Year, Calgary Stampede’s Wild Cherry. The two combined for 88.5 to win the round, a far better result than when Ashbacher last met Wild Cherry in Texas earlier this year. The chestnut gelding threw a fit in the chute and tore up the 25 year old’s knee.
The barrel racing saw the first cowgirl out capture top honours for the third night in a row. This time it was Texas raised cowgirl, Shelby Spielman and her terrific mount, Hot Donna; the duo put together a 14.087 second run for the win.
“It’s pretty exciting,” the 24 year-old talent who now makes her home in Ponoka. “I was joking with a friend that I’ve never made a victory lap at the Canadian Finals. This was pretty awesome. I actually went home this afternoon and it was really good to just relax and be in a familiar environment. I think that helped me tonight.”
Dawson and Dillon Graham dominated the team roping throughout 2021. But it was a different story for the Wainwright, Alberta brother combination over the first two nights of the CFR as the duo took back to back no times. Friday night saw the Grahams revert to their more regular form with a blistering 3.9 second run to claim top honours on the night.
“We knew our steer was good and we just wanted to make sure we used him well,” header Dawson Graham stated. “Last night we had a great one and I just flat out missed. But there’s a lot left. It’s not over.”
And a couple more runs like their Friday night effort could elevate the young ropers back to their customary spot at the top of the standings.
Manitoba steer wrestler, Justin Miller, moved to second place in both the average and overall standings courtesy of a 3.7 second run while in the tie down roping event, two time High Point Champion Riley Warren won the round and took over the average lead with his 8.0 second run. Warren’s $24,020 in season earnings leaves him just four dollars behind leader, Clayton Smith.
Two titles were declared on Friday night. Fairview, Alberta hand, Brodie Roessler, took home the honours in the novice saddle bronc riding while in the novice bareback riding Cruz McNulty of Biggar, Saskatchewan capped off his season with the Canadian title.
And in the junior steer riding, Tyvan, Saskatchewan’s Grady Young assumed the lead in both the average and season’s earnings with a stellar 82 point ride.
CFR action resumes at the Peavey Mart Centrium for two Saturday performances, the first at 12:00 noon and the second at 6:00 pm.
For complete results, go to rodeocanada.com
Memorable Friday Night at CFR47