Zeke Thurston

Zeke Thurston

World Champion Saddle Bronc rider, Zeke Thurston of Big Valley consistent at NFR

Donalda’s Curtis Cassidy third overall and wins $15,653

3.3 seconds.

Yes, you read that right.

Scott Guenthner bulldogged his steer in a time that was just three-tenths of a second off the arena record for the third go-round win, and the $26,330 pay cheque at the 60th Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

With that run, the Provost, Alberta cowboy moved to the head of the class as the world standings leader with $141,880 and an $8,000 cushion over second place man and reigning world champion Tyler Pearson. Guenthner and Canadian teammate Curtis Cassidy have reversed the positions they occupied prior to the start of the finals as Cassidy checked in with a 4.1 to finish third in the round ($15,653) and sits third overall as well.

Guenthner called his shot to some extent as he talked about his misfortune in the opening round back on Thursday night. Guenthner had a steer that burst out of the chute and the result was a no time, that certainly hurt the Canadian champion’s chances in the aggregate.

READ MORE: Canadian steer wrestling champ from Donalda will compete at CFR

“Yeah, that first night didn’t go as planned but you just have to blank that out,” said Guenthner. There’s still a lot of go-rounds left and a lot can happen especially in our event with steers, horses and everything. There’s no point in stressing, you just go out and try to win every go round and hope that might be enough.”

And win the round is exactly what the 27-year-old did. With several doggers encountering trouble on night number three, it’s not out of the question that the Canadians could still get a little of the aggregate money on nine runs. Both Guenthner and Cassidy are riding Cassidy’s Tyson, Canada’s Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year with five-time Canadian Champion Cody Cassidy hazing for both cowboys.

READ MORE: Local cowboys Zeke Thurston and Curtis Cassidy have solid night at NFR. Big Valley’s Thurston has wild ride. Donalda’s Cassidy ranked number one steer wrestler in world

It took a couple of nights but Orin Larsen brought his A-game to round number three of the 2018 Wrangler NFR bareback riding event. Matched up against the Calgary Stampede’s Trail Dust, Larsen shook off the effects of a leg injury that has been bothering him some and made an outstanding ride to finish second in the round behind two-time world champion Tim O’Connell who was 88.5 on the 2016 Bareback Horse of the Year – Craig At Midnight. Trail Dust is sometimes overlooked a little in a Calgary Stampede pen of bareback horses that includes Special Delivery, Reckless Margie and Xplosive Skies, among others, but this 11-year-old bay gelding is a perennial CFR and NFR horse as well as a final four selection at the Stampede. The 87 point ride provided the Manitoba product with a $20,730 injection to the Larsen bank account and sees him in 4th place in the world standings with $167,000 won.

Three for three. 2016 World Champion Saddle Bronc rider, Zeke Thurston, has been a picture of consistency at this year’s Wrangler National Finals. Thurston followed up a 5/6 split and a fourth-place cheque in the first two rounds with another 5/6 split in round number three courtesy of an 86 point ride on Burch Rodeo’s Maria Bartiromo. And with the top two men in the world standings, Jacobs Crawley and Ryder Wright both having fallen well back in the aggregate, Thurston could be poised to be a big part of the championship conversation come the later rounds. Canada’s second bronc rider, the two-time and reigning Canadian Champion, Clay Elliott from Nanton, Alberta, was a solid 84.5 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Big Tex but was just a point and a half out of the money and is 11th in the world standings.

READ MORE: Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston conquers NFR sixth go-round with personal best

Stephenvile, Texas roper, Marty Yates, won his second go-round in a row in the tie-down roping, this time with a blazing 7.0-second run. Yates has now taken over the lead in both the aggregate and the world standings, dropping Tuf Cooper and season leader Shane Hanchey to second and third respectively.

In the barrel race, 2017 Canadian Champion Carman Pozzobon continued to be solid despite running on the bottom half of the ground for the third night in succession. The Savona, BC hand and her hard-running mare, Ripp posted a 13.87 to finish eighth in the round and just out of the money. However, Pozzobon’s three runs to date have her sitting eighth as well in the all-important, and very lucrative, aggregate. Salem, Oregon cowgirl, Amberleigh Moore, won the round with a 13.59 while Hailey Kinsel continues to sit atop the world standings after three rounds of NFR ’18.

A rapid section of team roping saw Derrick Begay and Cory Petska capture first place with a 4.0-second run. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira continue to cling to the overall lead but with several teams in contention, this race looks like it could go down to the last run next Saturday night.

In the bull riding, four-time and reigning World Champion Sage Kimzey and Utah bull rider Tyler Bingham spit the round with identical 88 point scores. And while Joe Frost is now three for three after his fifth-place 83 point ride on C5 Rodeo’s Double Vision, Kimzey continues to lead the world with a remarkable $156,000 margin over the second place man, Parker Breding, with Frost now in third place.

For daily stock draws, round winners, results and highlights during the ten days of the NFR, go to http://www.rodeocanada.com

– Contributed by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

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Cody Cassidy of Donalda at the steer wrestling event in 2017 at the Steel Wheel Stampede. Stettler Independent file photo

Cody Cassidy of Donalda at the steer wrestling event in 2017 at the Steel Wheel Stampede. Stettler Independent file photo