They were making a cash call Friday at the Calgary Stampede and only four contestants in each Pool B event were able to answer. Those with the biggest bucks were rewarded with a pass through to Showdown Sunday, while the rest face the intense competition on Wild Card Saturday.
For the second day in a row, it was a Brazilian bull rider who laid claim to the first place prize money in the round, keeping Andre the Brazilian translator busy. But this time it was Marcos Gloria who made his way to the stage for a bronze, after an impressive 90.5 point ride on the Vold bull Whiskey Hand. The $5,500, plus the victory, gave him in the edge to advance out of Pool B to Sunday.
“That was a difficult ride, but that’s all I needed, I’m very happy. That’s all I need today,” Gloria said in Portuguese, with a big grin that needed no translation.
The bull threw some nasty snapbacks at the cowboy, who stayed squarely in the middle of the mayhem.
“I got him before. It’s all or nothing on that bull, away from the hand like that. You’ve got to give everything you got.”
“It was fun,” he added, in English.
Gloria now has an Edmonton address, and calls Canada his second home. He’s thrilled to have the opportunity to ride on Sunday, when they hand out more than a million dollars.
“It’s like for any other Brazilian, it’s just a dream come true in a place like this.
Cody Nance wound up the number one earner in the bull riding Pool B standings, with $10,500, followed by Sage Kimzey with $10,000, then Ramon De Lima at $9,500. Gloria, J.B. Mauney, and Jess Lockwood all had $8,000 each, but because he won the most in any one round, Gloria gets the bye.
The money in the bareback riding Pool B was spread fairly evenly, so contestants needed to get some work done Friday. Grabbing the biggest pot of the day was World Champion Tim O’Connell. But he had to be double tough when his first horse slipped off balance, falling hard to the ground with O’Connell still on board. So he was given a reride, and soon discovered the next one was Unfortunate Carma.
“It sent a little chill down my spine,” the Iowa cowboy said, about when he heard the news. “That is not an easy horse and we have dodged each other for a while, but it just happened to be today that we matched up finally.”
O’Connell had to take a few big gulps to get ready for the battle.
“It’s one of them deals – it’s time to cowboy up. There’s going to be nothing fun from the time you put your rigging on her until the time you get off. But you know what? It was time to put my big boy pants on and go to work.”
There were all kinds of fireworks for the full eight, but the result was 87.5 points and $5,500 in prize money.
“She is everything that I thought she was,” exclaimed O’Connell. “She was a complete handful. She jumps to the left, she jumps to the right, she keeps her head between her legs, and gets a lot of guys spurring over (the neck). She got me to spur over like three times today, and I just had to keep driving and riding, and finally she cut left and let me settle back down and finish her off. That’s an amazing bucking horse, and that’s why the Calgary Stampede has some of the best horses in the world.”
O’Connell was thrilled to be able to bring his four-month old son Hazen up with him on stage for the bronze awards, at just his third rodeo. He’s also looking forward to having Saturday off, which may help him get over his first rough landing.
“I did hit my head pretty hard,” he admitted. “They had me go through concussion protocol after the second ride. She’s got me a little fuzzy so I have to go back and do concussion protocol again before I leave here today. I was glad the horse got up and he was really good, and I got up and I was all right. It was in God’s hands today and He took care of me.”
Advancing from Pool B in bareback is O’Connell with his $12,750; Steven Dent ($12,500); Ty Breuer ($10,750); and in another tie-breaker, JR Vezain ($6,500).
It may have been too little, too late, but for Shane Hanchey, winning Friday’s go-round was a psychological triumph. The 2016 Stampede winner hadn’t won a dime heading into Friday’s action.
“It’s been a long three days,” he sighed, noting his cold spell was no fault of the calves, or his great horse partner Reata.
“It was just kind of a funk that I was in. For some reason I got out of my comfort zone and was trying to rope like other ropers, not like myself,” said Hanchey. “Me and Tuff (Cooper) had a good talk today. I just gotta rope like I’ve been roping my whole life, ain’t no sense changing it when you get to this kind of a stage.”
When the chips are down, it’s the little things that can make a big difference. And the timely advice of friends.
“Me and Ryan Jarrett talked right before we went in for grand entry and I said ‘man what do you think I’ve been doing?’. He said ‘you’ve been to the back of your saddle the whole time. You’re not to the front of your saddle roping.’ He’s one guy that you listen to.”
“When you’re in the back of your saddle, you’re not ready to rope. It’s such a fast start here and you’ve got to hang it on them so fast, if you’re not ready to rope, the calves are going to be out of your range before long.”
The tip made all the difference and Hanchey got one tied up in 7.2 seconds, for fastest of a round where a lot went wrong for many others.
“It’s just the little things that make a huge difference, especially calf roping and especially here.”
The $5,500 bonus was welcome, but not enough to get Hanchey straight through to Sunday. So he’ll be teeing it up on Wild Card Saturday, hoping to be one of the two fastest who also earn a spot.
“For me, I know what it’s like to be here Sunday. I know what it’s like to lift that bronze up, with the hundred thousand dollar cheque, and I want to get there again. My confidence is back where I need it to be and I’m looking forward tomorrow. I’d love to be the guy that comes from the Wild Card round and wins the whole deal.”
The ropers who do have a day off on Saturday are Tuf Cooper ($13,500); Ryan Jarrett ($12,000); Blane Cox ($12,000) and Justin Malone ($6,500).
In the category of clutch performances, make it three for three for a pair of contestants having a superb Stampede.
Barrel racer Hailey Kinsel keeps breaking resetting the speed limits at the Stampede, once again topping her previous fast time. She stopped the clock at 17.04 seconds, just five-hundredths of a second away from the record
“My first (barrel) was a little better again and I felt like I stayed good on my second, but my third I still let her out a little bit too much on the back side of it, trying to get out of it,” analyzed the Texan. “I need to fix that just a bit. The other two I wanted to be a little bit tighter today so that I could finetune things before Sunday.”
Kinsel finishes with the highest earnings of any Pool A or B competitor at $21,000.
“It’s just awesome to be able to make runs and get paid this much. Every run matters on your horses, but it’s sure means a lot more to run for this much. Calgary’s first class for that.
Joining Kinsel as Pool B qualifiers are B.C.’s Carman Pozzobon ($15,000); Jessica Routier ($10,500) and Carley Richardson ($7,000).
There’s just no catching saddle bronc specialist Ryder Wright. For the third straight day he took the victory lap. This time he was 89 points on Franklin’s Evening Mist.
“It felt really good,” said Wright. “That horse was kind of jumping back and forth and I felt solid the whole time. Those are the best feeling ones when you’re spurring them like that, those ones that’ve got moves.”
Wright closes out his Pool B time with $20,000, followed by his brother and fellow qualifier Rusty Wright ($12,500); Wade Sundell ($9,250) and Cort Scheer ($9,000).
Texan Matt Reeves made sure he got Saturday off by winning the steer wrestling round in 3.5 seconds.
“I had such bad trip last year, that it’s really nice to do good,” said Reeves, who finished on top of Pool B with $14,500. Joining Reeves from Pool B will be Dakota Eldridge ($11,000); Brendan Laye of Consort ($8000) and Trevor Knowles ($8,000).
The Tier 1 Junior Steer riding championship was determined Friday, and the trophy went to Jett Lambert of Grande Prairie.