It was the greatest night of team roping in the history of the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
The progression Friday in Red Deer was this: one-tenth of a second off the record followed by ‘equals the record’ followed by two teams ‘breaking the record’.
The old mark of 3.7 seconds was first equalled by Tee McLeod and Brady Chappel then quickly eclipsed by Brady Tryan and Calgary Smith and then Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler clocking a pair of 3.5s.
National Finals Rodeo header Rhen Richard weighed in on the night’s success story, “The average pays good here, but it doesn’t pay good enough to not win in the rounds. I’m not saying I was backed in there trying to be 3.5, but I was going to take my first available shot. I got a really good start for the first time … the steer was really good and made up fast. And that was kind of what made it work.”
While he was undeniably excited about the round win, world and Canadian champion Jeremy Buhler was clear, “For me, I try to stay level either way. It’s dang sure a confidence boost to know that what you’ve been working on is the right thing. It’s honestly almost more of a relief after the last month when you’ve been working hard and paying attention to the process. To show up and execute validates your process and helps you have more confidence that your process is working.”
Oregon header and first time CFR heeling qualifier Calgary Smith grinned, “I’ve never been a three until (Friday) night, so I was excited. My whole family is here, even my grandma. And some of my high school buddies who came up for a couple of days to see me rope.”
“I made CFR five years ago,” Brady Tryan added. “I wanted to be here and have a chance to win this. I was 3.5 one other time, over a decade ago at the NFR. Anytime you’re a 3, when you look at the clock, you’re shocked and you’re excited.”
Friday’s effort, when added to a second place in Round 1 and a share of second in Round 2, have Tryan and Smith first overall with $49,482 and sitting second in the average. Saskatchewan ropers Tee McLeod and Brady Chappel are only a couple of hundred dollars behind but lead the average while Richard and Buhler are in fourth spot with $36,622 and third in the average. Season leaders and defending champions Dawson and Dillon Graham, who posted a no time in Round 3, sit third but are out of the average at this point.
Bareback rider Clint Laye earned his second straight CFR ’49 round win in spectacular style with an impressive 88.75 ride on Wayne Vold’s 73 True Grit, a horse he’s long admired but never competed on.
“She’s been around a long time,” Laye observed. “Since about the time I started – and I’ve never gotten her. We’ve been in the same pen together, my travelling partners have had her, I’ve helped guys get on her but I’ve never drawn her. Everything I’ve ever heard about her is true. I’ve watched her so many times I kind of felt like I knew what to expect.”
With $60,852 in earnings, Laye leads his event and the average heading into Round 4. But four Canadians — 2019 champ Orin Larsen, season-leader Kody Lamb, travelling partner Dantan Bertsch and defending title-holder Ty Taypotat — sit within striking distance of the top spot with three performances to go.
On a night when hometown hero Ashton Sahli thrilled the Red Deer faithful with an 88.5 point round-winning ride on Vold bull Wolf Bait, the race for the Canadian title continued to tighten. Season-leader Coy Robbins has gone 0-for-3 as the Duane Kesler Championship Rodeo bull American Hats Chester bucked off the Camrose cowboy and allowed those in pursuit to draw still closer. The 2019 champion, Edgar Durazo, is a man on the move, as his fourth-place finish in Friday’s third round of competition keeps him on top in the aggregate race with its substantial payout and pulls the Mexican-Canadian to within $5,300 of Robbins with Canadian champions Jared Parsonage and Jordan Hansen still within striking distance and Sahli a slightly longer shot in fifth place.
After stunning an opening night Centrium crowd with a rare buck-off, only his second of the entire season, three-time Canadian and world champion bronc-rider Zeke Thurston is back in his customary spot at the top of the standings after the second of back-to-back wins, this one an 88.75 point effort on the back of Calgary Stampede bronc Yesterday’s Delivery. While the Big Valley superstar remains on the outside of an average payoff, he has a commanding $16,000 lead over second-place cowboy, Ben Andersen who was bucked off another Stampede bronc, Tokyo Bubbles, Friday night. Meanwhile, Logan Hay continues to keep Thurston in his sights as he is now 3-for-3 and first in the lucrative average after his second place 88.5-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Exotic Warrior.
The 2019 world champion tie-down roper, Haven Meged, took another step toward winning his first Canadian title as his 8.3-second run bested the field of 12 ropers and moved him to second spot in the average and kept him at the top of the standings. Several ropers remain very much in the hunt for the elusive roping title that Meged narrowly missed in 2019, the same year he won the world crown.
Six-time Canadian champion Cody Cassidy continued his climb up the steer wrestling leaderboard with an impressive 3.6-second winning run Friday to take over first place in the average and move to within $13,000 of leader and three-time title-holder, Scott Guenthner, who broke a barrier on Friday night to drop back to third place in the average.
Veteran barrel racer and season leader Lynette Brodoway remains in first place in the race for the champion’s buckle, but it was the Texan Carlee Rae Otero who won the third round as she blistered a 13.53-second run on a five year-old horse, KL Touch of Heaven (Dove). Otero is fourth overall, as rookie Blake Molle remains first in the average and trails Brodoway by just over $17,000.
Both novice events wrapped up after three rounds of action that saw Jaret Cooper earn the novice bareback title and Chase Siemens take home the novice saddle bronc award. Brooks steer-rider Hayden Mulvey marked 80 points for his second-straight round win, and Rodeo Royalty played a big part in the performance, when Miss Ponoka Stampede, Kaylee Shantz, was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada.
For more Canadian Finals Rodeo results, see rodeocanada.com Check out www.cfrreddeer.ca/ for additional event details.
Saturday is a big day with a matinee performance at noon and a 6 p.m. evening round. Follow the action on The Cowboy Channel.