When it comes to roping calves, the Cooper boys are in a league of their own. Maybe it’s the fact that they were swinging a loop since they were toddlers, or that their father Roy was a eight time World Champion, or that roping in Texas is as much a passion as hockey in Canada.
But whatever the reason, there’s no arguing with the results. The talents of two of the three brothers took them all the way to the Showdown round at the 78th Annual Ponoka Stampede. And the speed of the youngest, Tuf, took him to his second Ponoka buckle.
Tuf Cooper roped his calf right out of the long score run, and with his trademark smooth hands, got the job done in 7.3 seconds, while older brother Clif finished second in 8.2.
“I’d run that calf earlier in the second run,” explained Tuf. “I was 7.8 on him, and I knew I could either be fast on him, or go make a smooth run if I needed to. He took a step right, which is right in my office, and took my first good shot right out in front of me. I kept him standing and went and made a smooth run on the ground.”
“Roping is all about position. If you position your body in the right place, it doesn’t matter where the calf is, you have a good chance of catching.”
The increased purse at Ponoka in the Showdown round means the 24-year-old snags at take of $14,924, which is a lot more than he got with his Ponoka win back in 2010.
“Wow. How about that? Thank you Lord, and thank you Ponoka Stampede! That’s good confidence, starting the fourth of July run off. My horses are great, and I’m ready to come back for Calgary.”
But there’s no time for celebrating since Cooper and his brother-in-law Trevor Brazile had to rope at 8 am this morning in Window Rock, AZ, and at Prescott tonight. Then it’s quick stops in St. Paul, OR and Cody, WY, Calgary and then Livingston, MT, thanks to jet travel and well-coordinated horse trailer drivers.
The only Canadians to ride away with Ponoka titles this year are another brother set. Justin and Brett McCarroll of Camrose roped their Showdown steer in 6.4 seconds, to snag the team roping title. It’s the third one for Brett, but the first for Justin. The win gives them $8145 apiece.
“We roped together for about five years, and then had some changes for a few years. But now we’re back roping together and it feels like old times, I guess,” commented Brett.
“We didn’t have a whole lot won coming into this weekend, so it certainly takes some pressure off. It’s nice to win at the big ones. This would be the biggest cheque we’ve won together.”
Taos Muncy rode Calgary Stampede’s Timely Delivery to the Ponoka saddle bronc honors, with an 88.25 point performance.
“I’ve been real lucky drawing those horses. If you have a good horse, it makes it a lot easier,” said the two-time World Champion, from New Mexico. “I felt like I was out of control the whole ride, but what a great horse. I’ve been on that horse before, and he about bucked me off. Today, it felt a little bit better.”
Muncy takes home a big $17,912 Ponoka haul.
“I just love rodeoing. I’m real thankful this is what I get to do, and I’ve got to enjoy it while I can. I’m having a real blessed year. I’m real excited to start the fourth like this.”
The bareback riding buckle and jacket from Ponoka went to the man with the midas touch in that event these days, Kaycee Field. He rode Mucho Dinero to 87.75 in the Showdown, for a whopping $18,470, and his first Ponoka title.
Nebraska’s Dru Melvin was another first time winner at the Stampede, claiming victory in the steer wrestling with a 4.1 second run, for $14,894. Florida’s Kaley Bass sped her horse Cowboy around the barrel pattern in the fastest time of the week, 17.156 seconds, to win the Ponoka championship and $14,686.
Texan Cody Teel was at his first Canadian rodeo but the 2012 World Champion bull rider turned the trip into a good one. He rode True Blood to an 88.5, and as the only finalist to make the whistle, he earned the full $15,000 bonus, to go with his earlier $6100.
Winning his first ever $50,000 Tommy Dorchester Dash for Cash was Kurt Bensmiller with his AIC Construction outfit, with a time of 1:12:51.
“The horses didn’t really kick in off the start, but I really closed ground coming down the lane, around the third and fourth turn, so I was happy with them,” commented Bensmiller.
“There’s two Stanley Cups (in wagon racing). There’s this one and Calgary in a week. This is an amazing feeling to come here with this many people. It’s a great place.”
Kirk Sutherland actually crossed the line first, but three seconds of outrider penalties cost him the Ponoka title.
The $10,000 All Pro Canadian pony chuckwagon Dash for Cash went to Dale Young and his Calgary Flames Ambassador wagon for a time of 1:11:49.
Bowden’s Ky Marshall won the All Around honors at Ponoka, while Steven Dent took the High Point championship. This year’s attendance at the Ponoka Stampede was 79,025, up from last year.