EDMONTON — Some Central Alberta cowboys padded their pockets during Wednesday’s opening performance of the Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place.
In the tie-down roping, it was looking like a Central Alberta sweep of the big cheques when Murray Pole of Erskine got his calf wrapped up in 8.4 seconds.
Then Steve Lloyd of Alix speeded things up when he completed his run in 8.1 seconds, taking over the lead. But before he could even think about how to spend the $11,000 first-place payday, Tyson Durfey snuck out and stuck a 7.5-second run on his calf, claiming the fast run of the night.
The Washington roper came into Edmonton in second spot with season earnings of just over $19,000. But with the round one money, he moves to top spot in the race for a Canadian championship buckle.
“I’m glad to be back here,” grinned Durfey. “I missed you guys last year!”
Durfey made the National Finals Rodeo in 2010, but failed to make the cut for the Canadian competition, which he’s won twice before.
For horsepower this year, Durfey went back to an old friend.
“The horse I was actually riding belongs to (fellow CFR roper) Al Bouchard, but he used to belong to me and my Dad. So I knew the horse, but it had been a couple years since I’d been on him, so it was kind of a cool experience. The first round’s a very important round.
“It sets up the tempo for the rest of the week, so it means a lot to me to get the first win.”
Meanwhile, Lloyd wasn’t too disappointed about his second-place finish.
“I’m used to that. Tyson’s been hard on me in this building,” he laughed.
“I had a good calf.
“We broke these calves in, conditioned them a couple weeks ago, and I knew the one I had was pretty good. I just needed to take care of my end of the deal.”
Lloyd is happy to be at the CFR again as well, missing the cut in 2010 for the first time in many years.
“I didn’t want that to happen again! It’s real good to be back.”
Lloyd was pleased to crack the ice right off the bat in the earnings department, picking up $8182.
“It takes a little bit of weight off your shoulders. A guy can go have fun now. It’s gone both ways for me in the past, but it’s real nice to get it off on the right foot. I’d take second, third, fourth all week. I wouldn’t complain.”
Meanwhile, a Central Alberta cowboy has taken over the lead in the steer wrestling race. Like Lloyd, Rowdy Hays of Rocky Mountain House finished second in the round with a run of 3.7 seconds. But the $8,182 was enough to move him into first place overall, bumping back Curtis Cassidy of Donalda. Cochrane’s Tanner Milan won the round in 3.6 seconds.
Dustan McPhee of Hanley, Sask., had the best bareback ride of the night, marking 83.50 on OLS Tubs Ross River, for his $11,000 payday. Wyoming’s Chet Johnson won the saddle bronc riding, marking 84 on a horse called Devil’s Who.
It was an impressive night of bull riding, with 11 out of the 12 competitors covering the full eight seconds on their bulls. Best of the bunch was Devon Mezei of Scandia with an 87 on bull named Edgar.
Nanton’s Lindsay Sears took the barrel racing big payout after she and Moe turned the pattern in 14.583 seconds.
It was a fast night of team roping, with Steele DePaoli of Longview and B.C.’s Spencer Rutherford topping the leader board with a 4.7-second run. Hardisty’s Coleman Watt won the novice bronc riding with a 75, while novice bareback went to Clint Laye of Cadogan for a 77.5. Bowden’s Ky Marshall was just a point behind for second place.
Bryce West of Cadogan took the boys steer riding opening round with an 81.
The second performance of the CFR at Rexall Place goes tonight at 7 p.m.
Dianne Finstad is a regular contributor of the Red Deer Advocate and is the agriculture/rodeo director for Newcap Radio/CKGY/CIZZ FM in Red Deer.