For three Ponoka cowboys, there might be one or two other rodeo finals that might generate a bigger grin.
For Jake Vold and Levi Simpson though, getting a win at the Ponoka Stampede will never be any sweeter.
Vold rode Mucho Dinero to an 88.75 on the last ride of the bareback showdown to take the title and walk off with just over $17,500 in earnings. Vold beat out JR Vezain by just 0.25 points for the win.
“I didn’t ride as good as I wanted, but I was fortunate enough to get the win,” he said.
“Mucho Dinero was awesome, I just tried to go faster than him. Guess I got back and (the judges) still liked it.”
And the victory was just what Vold said he needed to help bump him up in the world standings, but that being it’s Ponoka made it even better.
“This is by far the greatest rodeo one could ever watch, it’s a phenomenal rodeo,” he said.
“To be from here and the get win again, it’s a pretty cool feeling. Hats off to the committee and what they have done with the stock the last few years has been excellent.”
Vold came into the showdown on top after posting the best score of the week — 90.75 — in the afternoon bareback for a two ride total of 177.25.
As for the world champion team ropers Simpson and partner Jeremy Buhler from Arrowwood, a six second run in for the win felt really good as did taking away just over $15,500. The pair made the showdown in second with a 20.1 second time on three head.
“This is the biggest rodeo for us and the top 10 anywhere. To come in and have the opportunity to rope for this kind of money and have success is awesome,” said Simpson, who earned his third win in Ponoka all with different partners.
“Last year was good all around, but it was good to come back here and prove again we can still compete. It’s good win at home with lots of people and support.”
Buhler added that not being able to close the deal last year in Ponoka made the redemption this time around feel great.
Unfortunately for the other Ponoka cowboy, Wacey Finkbeiner lost out in the bull riding showdown after being bucked off. However, he still earned just over $8,000 for the week with the help of an 88.25, which was the top score in the final on Monday afternoon.
Saddle bronc world champ Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston got his first ever Ponoka win, scoring an 87.75 on Get Smart and walking off with just over $12,000.
“I’ve been coming here since I can remember, but Ponoka is awesome and I look forward to coming every year. They don’t make better rodeos than this,” he said.
Another area cowboy wasn’t as fortunate, as Meeting Creek’s Layton Green in the saddle bronc. The current top ranked rider in Canada, Green was pitted against four former world champions and wound up missing out with a mark of 87 in the showdown. He had been the best rider all week.
In the ladies barrel racing, it was Carman Pozzobon riding off with the Stampede title, while it was Jason Schaffer collaring the tie down roping crown, Garrett Smith winning the bull riding and lastly, in the steer wrestling, it was Jason Thomas walking out with the gold buckle.
Chuckwagons Dash for Cash
Six days of racing came to an end Monday night (July 3) for the World Professional Chuckwagon Association with Kurt Bensmiller outlasting the other three qualifiers for the $50,000 Dash for Cash final.
Kurt Bensmiller used his number one barrel to his advantage and carried that right through to the line for a one length victory.
“It’s just how we had hoped it would unfold, but it’s always nice to win a race that way,” he said following the race.
In the All Pro Canadian Chuckwagon Association, it was Kevin Desjarlais running away with the $10,000 Dash for Cash victory. Desjarlais came from the number four barrel and managed to pull ahead in the back stretch after being on the outside of three wagons across the track in the first turn. Desjarlais won on a bit of a sloppy track in a time of 1:16.44.
“The horses worked so good tonight and we were up against some awesome drivers tonight. The last five days here have been phenominal and the crowds are just awesome, keep it up.”