Central Alberta cowboys came out blazing in the opening performance of the 37th annual Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton.
In the saddle bronc riding, Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House was pleased as punch to draw a horse called Gallant Warrior from the Calgary Stampede. But the horse stalled at the chute and wasted a couple of the precious eight seconds gawking at the crowd. So Berry was awarded a reride, where he got on the Vold horse Moving Shadows.
“I’ve seen the horse quite a few times,” commented Berry. “He was really good this year at Okotoks. But he had a rare-out tonight I wasn’t really expecting.”
Fortunately, Berry, a former wild horse rider, who’s also a regular around the chuckwagon racing barns, has been around horses enough to adapt quickly, and he got into rhythym quickly, turning in an aggressive spur ride. The judges rewarded him with an 83.75 point score, which turned out to be the best of the night.
“It felt really good, but it felt like my saddle was moving a little bit in the middle there. Oh well,” he grinned. “Can’t do much about it. But it’s the way to start the week. As long as it continues the same way, it’ll be good.”
With a mixture of world-class bronc riders and top rookies in this year’s CFR lineup, Berry knows the competition all week will be tough.
“The guys that are riding here ride outstanding. To be even among these guys here is an honor and accomplishment. To be able to come out on top here tonight is even better.”
Berry has been pro for six years, and it’s his fifth CFR, but this marked his first go-round CFR buckle in the open saddle bronc riding.
Anxiously awaiting the results of Berry’s ride though, was Ponoka’s Luke Butterfield, who did have the lead with an 81.75 on the veteran horse John Wayne. So Butterfield did finish second, and he was pleased with that, considering he’s just coming off a broken leg. Berry earned $10,789 for the victory, while Butterfield picked up $8,023.
The steer wrestling round went to Texan Matt Reeves for a 4.2 second run, but Rocky’s JD Hays finished in second place with a 4.4, so he collected the $8,023 cheque. In the team roping, there was a three-way split of first, but among the winners was CFR first-timer Kenton Fawcett of Ponoka and his partner Riley Wilson of Cardston. They were 6.4 seconds, along with Justin and Brett McCarroll of Camrose and Steele and Don DePaoli of Longview.
The best bareback ride of round one came from Matt Lait of Seven Persons. He was 83.75 on Kesler’s Seat Sale for the win. In barrel racing, the biggest payday went to Sierra Stoney of DeWinton, but she made the 14.53-second run on Flame, the horse owned by Innisfail’s Cheryl Daines. It’s the same combination that won the Innisfail Rodeo in June, when it was a first outing for the two together. Stoney wins the $10,789. The round in tie-down roping went to Alwin Bouchard of Scandia, the defending Canadian champion. He was 8.1 seconds.
Rookie sensation Ty Pozzobon of Merritt, B.C., was one cool cookie in the bull riding. After seeing some marks in the high 80’s posted, and having had a helmet camera strapped to his helmet, he nodded his head and turned in a shiny 86.75-point ride on the Northcott bull Tough Town, which gave the Caroline contracting family a buckle of their own as well.
Clint Laye of Cadogan won the round in novice bareback with an 82, while Coleman Watt of Hardisty took novice bronc riding with a 68. Austin Nash of Sangudo was first in boys steer riding with a 79.5
The second performance of the CFR in Rexall Place goes tonight at 7 p.m.
Dianne Finstad is a regular contributor to the Red Deer Advocate and is the agriculture/rodeo director for Newcap Radio/CKGY/CIZZ FM in Red Deer