When it comes to big bucks in rodeo, a $1.1 million payday to a single cowboy is pretty much as big as it gets. When it comes to big bucks from the rough-stock, Calgary Stampede’s horses, particularly its mares, brought a lot of exciting horsepower to the party.

March 2 was an exciting day for the pro rodeo world with the launch of the inaugural All-American Rodeo, a unique event that drew 60,000 people to the football stadium in Arlington, Texas for a one-day showdown rodeo. The Calgary Stampede was invited to bring its best bucking horses, with 14 horses giving strong performances to help cowboys earn a lot of cash.

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(Above) Stampede Warrior makes headlines carrying Wade Sundell to the saddle bronc championship at the inaugural All-American Rodeo in Texas.

Cowboys vying for $100,000 purses in each event were invited by either being the top 10 in the world, or through lead-up qualifying events. The cowboys who got there the hard way were eligible for a $1 million bonus should they defy the odds to win.

And that’s just what bareback rider Richard Champion did, with the help of Stampede horse T-17 Twin Cherry. Richie drew Twin Cherry in the opening round, and this powerful young Calgary mare gave him a ride to the money round, scoring a strong 85 to get him to the final four shoot-out round. One more strong ride won the day, and Richie left Arlington with $1.1 million more green in his jeans.

Another $100,000 was won on the backs of a pair of Stampede mares in the saddle bronc event. One of the world’s top cowboys, Wade Sundell, drew Stampede’s Lynx Mountain in the long round, topping the round with a 90-point ride to earn his way in to the final four shoot-out round. There, he drew Stampede Warrior, another Stampede mare who just swapped from bareback event into the saddle bronc pen a few weeks ago. The pairing topped the board with an outstanding 92-point ride to win Wade the $100,000 purse.

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(Above) Stampede Warrior and Wade Sundell score a 92-point ride to win the saddle bronc championship at the All-American.

Another Stampede rising star launched her name into fame in the saddle bronc event. Texas Cherry was selected as one of four horses to compete in the final round alongside Stampede Warrior, a huge nod of confidence given the calibre of rough stock from across North America at the event. Two jumps and one of the world’s top cowboys hit the dirt, making 60,000 folks in the stands sit up and take note that this young buck is one to watch. Texas Cherry carries high expectations in the rodeo world to begin with, as the daughter of Flavoured Cherry and Grated Coconut, two legendary bucking horses that are now retired into its Born to Buck breeding program on Stampede Ranch by Hanna, Alberta. She will be one to watch as the 2014 season unfolds.

Looking forward to more great performances from Stampede’s champion horses as they shift their focus to Houston later this month.