PONOKA — It was a long journey for Jake Vold to get back to his hometown rodeo. But the rider is excited about a chance to defend the bareback title he won at the Ponoka Stampede just one year ago.
Sunday afternoon he made strides to do that, by spurring to 85.25 points on the Bar C 5 horse Big John, despite rainy, chilly conditions.
“I’ve never seen that horse before, and I asked the Bar C 5 crew, and they said he’s Virgil’s half-brother. Everybody knows Virgil. And they said he hadn’t been ridden yet.
“I thought if I could do my part, he’d have a good day in the mud, and he did. So it worked out.”
The mark, which would be high enough to win most rodeos, is sitting sixth best at Ponoka, behind the top mark of 88 from Kaycee Field. But with just today’s performance to go, Vold can looking forward to being part of the July 1 finals, where the top 12 marks qualify.
“That’s Ponoka, and that’s what makes a guy come a-ridin’, that’s for sure, when you’ve got to be 85 to try to sneak in there. So you just throw caution to the wind, and let it happen.”
Vold rolled into Ponoka at about 9 a.m. Sunday, after making an 83-point ride in the Finals at Reno, Nev., the night before, where he pulled $4,515 out of that rich rodeo. That bumps him up to fifth in the world standings, and he’s also leading the Canadian bareback race.
“I haven’t slept in about 27 hours. Three flights, and a rental car, and we’re here,” he smirked.
But there was no rest in sight yet.
“We’ll pack up and go to the Airdrie Rodeo tonight, and then drive to Williams Lake for tomorrow afternoon. Turns out we’re rodeoing right now, I guess,” he chuckled.
Vold wasn’t the only one at Ponoka Sunday afternoon who cashed in at Reno. Curtis Cassidy collected a whopping $11,297 as he won the first round and the average in the steer wrestling at Reno.
But there he was, standing in the rain and the wind, watching his fellow steer wrestlers at Ponoka the next day.
“I had to get up at 3:30 this morning to go to the airport,” said the Donalda cowboy. “I wasn’t too happy about that, but I guess that’s what you do this time of the year.
“It was really exciting (to win), and then I got the bonus of the all-around on top of that. I’ve been going to Reno a long time, and have come close to winning it. But I’ve never actually won it. To show up and come out on top, it was a great day of rodeo,” he grinned.
The Reno payday bumps Cassidy all the way up to fifth in the world steer wrestling race.
It also helps ease the pain of not being at the Ponoka Stampede finals Tuesday. While his run of 4.1 seconds is still in second place for round two, the epic wreck he experienced in the first round means he won’t advance, plus he’s still pretty sore from the rearranging of the ribs and sternum he suffered. Lee Graves remains the leader on two runs at the Ponoka Stampede with his 11.9 second total.
Of the top 12 bull rides at Ponoka so far, six of them were turned in Sunday afternoon. Kyle Louden of Australia moved in just behind the leading 88.75 mark of Brennon Eldred. Louden rode the exotic Big Stone bull Pop Evil to 87.25, then 2011 world champion Shane Proctor of North Carolina was 87 points on 2 Dark 2 C.
And BC’s Ty Pozzobon wasn’t far behind with an 86.50 on Morning Breath. Pozzobon had just picked up $9,284 for finishing second at Reno.
The only lead to change hands Sunday in Ponoka was perhaps the most surprising.
The rain made for a muddy track, but that didn’t keep Lisa Lockhart of South Dakota down. She and her horse Chism blazed around the barrels in 17.472 seconds to take over first spot.
Lockhart, a four-time Canadian champion, was as surprised as anyone about the speedy time.
“I just didn’t really think it would be that fast of a track,” she admitted. “Or they don’t like the mud splashing, so I just didn’t think we would fare as well as we did.
“There was no doubt in my mind that the footing was just fine. It’s just more the splashy, nasty, cold, ‘don’t want to do this’. Running into the rain at the first barrel, as my hat was flipping up, I felt like I was going to fly away,” she laughed.
“I’m just delighted to have one under my belt here. I haven’t been to many rodeos up here, so I’m kind of playing catch up. I don’t have hardly any money won, so this is a pretty important rodeo to me.”
Taos Muncy is still the cowboy on top in the saddle bronc riding with his 86. Canadian champion Rylan Geiger had the best ride of the day, and his 84 mark put him in fourth, to guarantee a spot for Tuesday’s finals. Another Canadian champion, Timber Moore of Texas, slid into third spot in the tie-down roping race with 16.8 seconds on two runs. The leader there is Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa, with a 15.9.
In team roping, Travis Gallais of Red Deer and Kevin Schreiner of Medicine Hat put together two decent runs in 13.9 seconds, to slide in right behind the 13.7 from leaders Rhen Richard of Jeremy Buhler. There’s a 79 on top in novice bareback now — from Linden Woods of Swift Current — while Lane Cust of Ardmore has an 80.5 for first in novice saddle bronc. Jake Plotts of Drayton Valley leads steer riding with a 75.50.
All day rains made for thick and heavy racetrack conditions for the second leg of the WPCA Pro Tour at the Ponoka Stampede.
Night 4 was the last chance for the drivers to try and get into the top eight for “Semi Final Monday.” When the night was complete, it was Jason Glass who topped the overall aggregate standings with a four-day total time of 5:05.94, and will be joined by Evan Salmond, Chad Harden, Kurt Bensmiller, Kirk Sutherland, Colt Cosgrave, Troy Dorchester and Jerry Bremner are who made the cut and will compete in Monday’s semi-final round.
Eight-time Ponoka Stampede Champion Kelly Sutherland ended up in the crying hole, 9th place overall, and just missed the semi-final round by a mere 3 one-hundreds of a second.
The top 4 times from Monday’s semi-final round will qualify into the $50,000.00 Tommy Dorchester Sudden Death Championship final heat where the winner will drive off in a new GMC Sierra Pickup Truck and take home the 2014 Ponoka Stampede Championship.
As far as day results are concerned, it was Evan Salmond who cashed the top cheque after posting the fastest time of a muddy night with a 1:19.00. Mike Vigen placed second on the night; Jason Glass was third, with Chad Fike and Rick Fraser rounding out the top five on the night.
There’s another performance of the Ponoka Stampede Rodeo today at 1:00 pm, followed by chuckwagon racing at 6:30.
The rodeo finals go July 1st at 1 p.m., with the $10,000 Dash for Cash for the pony chucks, and the $50,000 Tommy Dorchester Dash for Cash for the WPCA chuckwagons — plus the Stampede Showdown — going Tuesday at 6:30 pm.