The rich got richer on Day Seven of the Calgary Stampede, but it was also a breakthrough day for a couple of Pool B contestants.
Announcer Bob Tallman told the Grandstand crowd in the steer wrestling he was ‘sick and tired of Trevor Knowles not winning a cheque’ at Calgary yet.
The tall, lean cowboy was in full agreement.
“I was sick and tired of not winning a cheque!” he confirmed. “I drew a pretty good steer day one, and I broke the barrier to win the round. Yesterday I had no chance to win. You want to change something but you can’t.”
“So today I had one that I didn’t know if he was good or bad record-wise. I was just gonna go all out on him and see if I could make something happen, and fortunately, it did.”
Knowles got his steer tipped over in 3.7 seconds, the fastest time in Pool B so far. He broke the ice with a $5500 cheque.
The Oregon steer wrestler is just getting back on track after sitting out from August to January with a ‘popped’ knee, the first serious injury to keep him sidelined in his seventeen-year pro career. It’s been gradually getting better, but he can still feel it at times. So despite being a four-time Calgary Stampede winner, Knowles hadn’t qualified for this year’s event. But when Canadian champion Jason Thomas, who had been trying a comeback from a badly broken arm, decided it was just not ready, Knowles got the substitution invitation less than a week ago.
“I didn’t get the call to come here till Friday. I hauled butt to get home and get my passport, packed a bag and drove up.”
Knowles certainly seems to have the Midas touch in Calgary, being the only steer wrestler to have a collection of four big bronzes.
“I feel like I’ve got some pretty good timing on these Longhorns up here, and I’ve been fortunate to ride really good horses.”
Knowles definitely has the edge in terms of experience in the Final Four Showdown.
“I’ve been in it a few times,” he understates. “Sometimes it hasn’t worked out, a lot of times it has. The pressure on the first time is just overwhelming. If you have some luck, and you kind of overcome that, then the next time you’re in that position, it’s not as hard to deal with the pressure. Then after a while it doesn’t really bother you that much. I mean, its an intense situation, but it doesn’t freeze you up. You know the job you have to do, and you just go take care of business as best you can that day.”
Dakota Eldridge placed in the round, so he’s the overall Pool B leader, with $11,000, followed by Matt Reeves with $9,000. Knowles isn’t in the top four…. yet.
“I’ve got ground to make up, but I know how to make ground up,” said Knowles, with a sly grin.
Things have been going just right at Calgary for Ryder Wright. Just a day after treating saddle bronc riding fans to a stellar 92 point ride, the young Utah sensation who wears the title of World Champion well came back and tapped out 90 points on the new Vold horse Rise and Shine.
“It’s been a good three days so far,” he smiled. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling on Sunday.”
Wright wasn’t familiar with the horse, so inquired of fellow bronc rider Zeke Thurston on how much rein to give.
“Thanks to Zeke for that, I might have to give him some of the winnings,” he chuckled.
“He was pretty electric. I think the judges like that, and I guess I did my part, and the judges liked that.”
It’s not unusual for competitors to share advice and insights in the rodeo world, and that’s what makes the sport so unique.
“I’m pretty good buddies with all the bronc riders, and pretty much the whole rodeo world. It’s a pretty close community and it’s awesome to be able to live this life, and rodeo, and make a living doing it.”
Last year on championship Sunday at the Stampede, Wright’s daughter was born, and he had to Facetime to be part of the big family moment. This year, both his wife Cheyenne, and Bexley are here with him in Calgary.
“I wish I could’ve been there (for her birth), but I’ve got to rodeo. That’s what pays the bills. I left as fast as I could and drove all night (17 hours) to get home. I guess if I win it, I’ll give her a good birthday present.”
Ryder Wright has the big Pool B lead with $14,500, with his brother Rusty Wright in next at $9,000.
Like Knowles, bareback rider Bill Tutor found himself two days into his Stampede and his bank account still empty. But the Texas cowboy’s fortunes changes with he met up with Sacred Nation. The first class effort from both horse and rider resulted in 86 points, and gave Tutor a $5,500 deposit.
“That’s a great horse,” he exclaimed. “She was outstanding. I was excited to have her, and even more excited with the outcome. She performed, I performed and all was well.”
“I’m not very good with remembering horses, but I just talk with a lot of my buddies back there and they can remember them like the back of their hand, so I just go and ask ‘em. No matter what answer you get, you just go at ‘em with the best attitude that you can.”
Tutor acknowledges he’s more comfortable this year, being at his second Calgary Stampede.
“Calgary’s so prestigious, the first year you get here and it’s a little bit nerve wracking. You’re new, you don’t know where anything’s at. The prestige gets to you as well. Coming in the second year, you come in with a little more confidence, and it helps, absolutely.”
Steven Dent has moved to the head of the pack in bareback riding for Pool B, with $12,500, followed by Tim O’Connell with $7250.
The ‘six seconds or bust’ tie-down roping continued on Day Seven but this time Blane Cox was the only cowboy to break the seven second barrier. He took home the lion’s share of the cash with a time of 6.7 seconds.
“This was a fresh set of calves today ,and they told me I had a really good one, and I was excited to go first and set the bar high,” said Cox.
“This is actually the fastest I’ve ever been. I’ve been 6.8 one time in Texas, but this is the fastest. It’s very exciting for me.”
“It’s my first Stampede and I’m having a blast.”
The win moves Cox into second place in the Pool B standings with a $9500 total. Oklahoma’s Ryan Jarrett is the frontrunner with $12,000.
Make it two in a row for barrel racer Hailey Kinsel of Texas, as she and Sister sped around the pattern in the fastest time of this year’s rodeo so far, 17.11 seconds.
“It was a little better run. I had a better first barrel so I think that made me a little bit quicker. She was good today,” said Kinsel.
“It gives you a lot of confidence going into Sunday. I’m glad I get to skip Wild Card Saturday because that’s going to be dirty tough.”
Kinsel’s cash count is up to $15,500 at the top of the heap, but B.C.’s Carman Pozzobon is keeping in the hunt, placing again, and pushing her tally to $11,500 in second place.
Brazilian Ramon De Lima got his first trip to the Stampede award stage after staying on the middle on a spinning bull called Bamf, for 88.5 points, much to the delight of Brazilian fans watching the rodeo.
With the help of a translator, De Lima said he was happy to see them.
“I don’t know them, but I can tell they’re Brazilian and it feels good to see them cheering for me.”
“It’s a dream that came true, to be here at Calgary. My friends always told me, ‘oh you have to go, it’s the biggest arena on earth’. I finally qualified for it, and I’m very happy.”
Sage Kimzey is the Pool B leader, with $8,500 in earnings, following by J.B. Mauney with $8,000. De Lima’s total is now up to $7,000.
Also, the Stampede rodeo office confirms it’s heard from tie-down roper Cade Swor. He qualified for Sunday’s Showdown, but broke an arm while competing in Sheridan and had to pass up his opportunity in Calgary. Al Bouchard gets the nod instead to advance from Pool A.
Bull rider Scott Schiffner announced he and his family have decided this will be his last Calgary Stampede. He plans to hang up the bull rope after competing at a few more shows, after an impressive twenty-year career. He’ll be competing in Wild Card Saturday.