Alberta's Zeke Thurston defends his title in Saddle Bronc, while Barrel Racer Mary Burger thrills with a final win
The richest afternoon in rodeo also proved to be one of the wettest for 2016, in a Calgary Stampede Showdown Sunday to be remembered.
Alberta’s Zeke Thurston made it two years in a row to win the saddle bronc riding, drawing the same horse, Spring Planting, that helped him win the title last year as well.
Thurston put on a spurring clinic on the veteran mare, chalking up 89.5 points in the championship round, just 1.5 points better than the flashy ride Cody DeMoss put on Calgary Stampede’s Timely Delivery, which was named best saddle bronc of the Stampede.
“I know what she’s going to do, especially with the mud,” added Thurston. “It’s not going to phase her. She’s going to buck really hard. That old girl is just going to do her thing, so it was exciting.”
“I’ve been very blessed to have had some success, especially at the biggest rodeo in the world.”
DeMoss takes home $25,000 for second, followed by Rusty Wright with $15,000 for third, and Wade Sundell getting $10,000 from their efforts in the Final Four.
Mary Burger and her horse Mo rode the tide of being the fan sensation all Stampede long, and it carried right through to Showdown Sunday. The unassuming grandmother finished second to Lisa Lockhart in the afternoon, and then raced back and took all the marbles in the Final Four with a 17.99 second run.
“I’d only run him in the mud a couple of times, and basically, I did it because I was coming here, and I just knew it would rain,” smiled the 67-year-old from Pauls Valley, OK. “He really did handle it pretty good. I think the second time we ran, he was a little more on his toes.”
For Burger, one of the greatest treasures of her time in Calgary will be the memories of her interactions with all her new fans, and their support for her.
“When I came up through that alley way and they started cheering, it’s just like ‘here we go again!’. I hope this turns out as good as the other runs. It was amazing.”
Mary Walker, who was fastest in the afternoon, found herself heartbreakingly close to a Stampede title again, finishing second, but still taking home $25,000, followed by Jackie Ganter ($15,000) and Lisa Lockhart, who tipped a barrel ($10,000).
Bareback rider Steven Peebles was best in the afternoon with an 89 point ride, and then followed that up in the Final Four with an 87.5 on Shadow Warrior, but that was the exact same score Caleb Bennett posted on Virgil. So they reloaded the chutes for a ride-off, and this time Peebles was 83 to Bennett’s 78, giving him the triumphant trip to the stage and the $100,000 cheque.
“It’s so awesome,” marveled Peebles, who won the World Championship in 2015. “Sitting in a hospital bed a year ago, watching this rodeo, was very hard on me. I’ve always wanted to win this rodeo pretty bad, and I ended up sitting out six months with another injury this year. This is my first rodeo back in 2016, and to be standing up here on top right now, this is an honor.”
Bennett still earns $25,000 for his appearance in the Final Four, with the $15,000 going to RC Landingham, and $10,000 to Tanner Aus.
Roping calves in the mud is no picnic but the world’s best brought their A-game to the arena Sunday afternoon. Shane Hanchey and his great equine partner Reata had been roping smart and solid all Stampede, and they kept that up, making the Final Four. In that set, Hanchey was fastest of the bunch with a 7.9 second run, to give him a first Calgary title, and $100,000.
“It means a lot,” declared Hanchey. “This has been on my bucket list since 2010. To be able to win it, in these conditions, on that horse, it’s unreal.”
“I’m from Louisiana, I’m from the bayou. We’ve roped in mud my whole life. I’ve roped on him at high school rodeos in the mud, and I knew he wasn’t going to fail me now.”
Fred Whitfield came within one second of winning his fourth Calgary Stampede tie-down roping championship, with his 8.9 second run in the Final Four. But he still scoops up $25,000, with Ryan Jarrett taking home the $15,000 and Clint Robinson, the $10,000 bonus cheques.
Wyoming’s Seth Brockman came to his second Calgary Stampede with money on his mind, and he used that motivation to carry him all the way through to his first championship, wrestling a steer in 4.1 seconds in the afternoon, and then topping the Final Four field with a 4.7 second run, in sloppy, wet conditions.
“In the bulldogging there’s no ‘slow down’ in it. You’ve just got to run at it, and I got a good run at it, and was able to sneak by Waguespack,” said Brockman.
“This is huge. It’s the biggest rodeo we go to all year, so it means a lot.”
Tyler Waguespack finished second with 4.8 seconds, for $25,000. Donalda’s Cody Cassidy came in third for $15,000, and Dakota Eldridge takes home the $10,000 for fourth.
The bull riding bucks went to Texas, when Cody Teel was the only one of the Final Four to make the whistle, scratching out an impressive 91.5 on Liquid Fire. It’s his first $100,000 bonus at his first Calgary Stampede and he was thrilled.
“With the weather conditions and everything, to be here on the final day of the Calgary Stampede, it means a lot. I had two great bulls today that gave me the opportunity for the win, and for it all to work out, means a lot,” said Teel.
The other three in the Final Four, Ryan Dirteater, Nathan Schaper, and Fabiano Vierira each collect $16,666.
About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
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