There’s no sense being cautious when you’ve got a chance to ride for $100,000 at the Calgary Stampede. So on opening day of the 2017 edition of the $2 million dollar rodeo, the winners let it all hang out.
Saddle bronc rider Layton Green had an inside track through. As luck would have it, the young talent from Meeting Creek was matched up with the great horse called Stampede Warrior – the same one he rode this Monday at the Ponoka Stampede. There they’d combined for 87.25 points, and wound up second overall, for a pile of cash. But this time was even better, as the outstanding bay mare leapt high in the air and let Green go to work, for 91.50 big points, and the $5,500 first place payday.
Green was ecstatic when he found out he’d get another chance with her.
“That’s the third time I’ve been on that horse, and honestly, I’ve had a different trip on her every time,” said Green. “I knew after Ponoka I felt like I could’ve rode her a little bit better, and it felt even better today.”
“She rolled out of there today, and got it on right there. It was a great feeling, one of the best feeling rides ever. There’s not very many that feel that good, that jump that high in the air, and hang there for you. That’s what bronc riding’s about, and when you get the ones that feel like that, nothing in the world beats it,” he grinned.
Green is coming off the best Cowboy Christmas he’s had in his career, and 23-year-old second generation rodeo cowboy is riding the best he ever has in his four-year pro career.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world, and I’ve been drawing good, and riding good. When you’re hot, it’s hard to beat that. I think I’m a little more consistent now and have a few little tricks I’ve figured out to do for myself, and it’s like they’re starting to pay off.”
Topping Pool A competitors in the bareback riding was Texan Richmond Champion, making his fourth appearance at the Stampede. He got his motor running early by accepting the invitation to ride in the Stampede parade.
“I was really glad I did. It was an awesome experience (to see) that many people come out to support this,” he stated.
Champion was grinning about the opportunity to do an eight second dance with the horse Twin Cherry in the rodeo again, the fifth time the two have met in his career.
“She’s my old girlfriend,” he chuckled. “She’s a pain in the butt in the box, and she’ll give you a chance, but she’ll throw dirt in your face just as fast.”
“She tried to buck me off today but I got lucky, and she jumped back underneath me and gave me the opportunity to catch up, and make the bareback ride I was hoping to. You’ve gotta risk it for the biscuit, I guess!”
“All reserve goes out the window here. It doesn’t pay to hold back. You didn’t come here to win second.”
Champion was happy to claim his first ever bronze statue as a day winner, along with the $5,500.
Ryan Jarrett knows what it’s like to win the big cheque at the Stampede, and, as the speed record holder in the tie-down roping (6.3 seconds), he knows how to be fast here.
He came out and bundled up a little black calf in just 7.1 seconds Friday afternoon, worth $5,500, and a key step to him returning for Showdown Sunday out of Pool A.
“I like Calgary, it’s been good to me,” said the Oklahoma cowboy. “I enjoy coming here and roping. I’ve said it before, just hustle, hustle, hustle.”
Jarrett enjoys the chance to catch his breath and soak up the Calgary atmosphere after his busy fourth of July rodeo run. He even got up early to ride in the Stampede parade as well.
“It was crazy. It’s amazing how many people come out to watch the parade.”
This year, Jarrett is using his six-year-old rope horse Snoopy, and while Jarrett’s a veteran in Calgary, this was Snoopy’s first trip to the Stampede.
“I trained him myself. I’ve been monkeying with him for about two years, and I’m kind of proud of him. It’s a real big gamble, but I just kind of beared down and did it. It worked out. Maybe he’ll stay good the rest of the time.”
Cochrane steer wrestler Tanner Milan gave his good horse Smoke a few days off, and it paid $5500 when the two got their steer turned over in 4.2 seconds, fastest of the day.
“I knew the steer left good, and I took a pretty aggressive start, and I caught up really good. He was just an excellent steer on the ground,” said the two-time Canadian champion.
“It’s a great way to start off the Stampede.”
It’s not the first time he’s won the opening day of his Pool, but Milan has yet to win the big prize at the end.
Utah’s Kimmie Wall and her homegrown mare Foxy rounded the barrel racing pattern in 17.35 seconds to take the first place prize money of $5,500 in her event.
“I just really want to commend the Calgary Stampede,” said Wall. “They worked really hard on the ground this year, and we really appreciate it. The ground was amazing.”
“She nailed the first barrel this year, and that’s where I could never get my first last year.”
The best of the bull rides came from a Stampede newcomer, Jess Lockwood from Volberg, Montana. He was 87.5 points on a bull called Goose Bumps.
“It’s the coolest thing ever to step out onto that chute and see this whole crowd. It’s just incredible,” marveled the 19-year-old. “My aunt Lisa Lockhart has competed here forever. She’s done well here, and she’ll be up here in Pool B. It’s going to be the coolest thing ever.”
“I’ve seen pictures of this place, but to soak it in, in person …well, it’s the Calgary Stampede, the one and only.”
Lockwood jumps out to the lead in Pool A for bull riding with his $5,500.