Cowboy Christmas fills stockings
July 7, 2016
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Cowboy Christmas run, which went from June 28 through July 4, included 28 rodeos with a total purse of $3,402,557 up for grabs.
As cowboys drove many miles and got little sleep, they were all hoping for a big piece of the financial pie.
Tie-down roper Shane Hanchey, the 2013 PRCA world champion, won the most of any competitor, collecting a total of $32,293. That amount was a new single-event timed-event Cowboy Christmas record, surpassing the $30,105 by fellow tie-down roper Blair Burk in 2000.
Hanchey moved from 36th to fifth in the July 5 WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings.
"This is by far the best I've felt since I won my world title," Hanchey said. "Then, to set this Cowboy Christmas record, knowing how many guys – not only in my event, but in all timed events – have put their names down year after year during Cowboy Christmas, is really cool. To win what I did during Cowboy Christmas also gives me the confidence back that I'm one of the best in the world."
During his run, Hanchey became only the eighth cowboy – in any event or combination of events – to surpass $30,000 during Cowboy Christmas.
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Hanchey collected a large chunk of his Cowboy Christmas winnings at the Ponoka Stampede, as he left Alberta with $14,354.
"I've always had good luck at Ponoka for some reason or another," said Hanchey, 26. "The main reason that I won (so much during Cowboy Christmas) is I brought Reata. He had nine months off last year. I rodeoed on him at Austin (Texas) in March, rode him at Corpus Christi (Texas) in the spring, and then I was second at Fort Smith (Ark.) on him. I started getting confidence back on him and I brought him up there to Canada and I won Airdrie and Ponoka."
Bareback rider Caleb Bennett, who's been to the last four Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, was the top roughstock cowboy of the Christmas run, banking $29,911.
Bennett, like Hanchey, did the majority of his damage north of the border in Ponoka, earning a total of $16,079. He won the first round with an 87.75-point ride on Wayne Vold Rodeo's Mucho Dinero, which led him to the second spot in the two-head average. Bennett then rode for 89 points on C5 Rodeo's Virgil to win the four-man showdown round.
The 26-year-old from Ogden, Utah, also split second at the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede with an 85-point trip on Frontier Rodeo's Big League, which was another $7,026 in his pocket.
He took over the top spot in the bareback riding world standings.
"This was absolutely the best Fourth I ever had," Bennett said. "I've always dreamed of winning $25-30,000 because it's do-able, and I had luck on my side. I was pretty blessed, and drew the right horses at the right rodeos and capitalized on it."
For all he accomplished over Cowboy Christmas, Hanchey did have one slight setback. When Marcos Costa and Matt Shiozawa tied for the win at the Oakley Independence Day Rodeo in Oakley City, Utah, with a time of 6.8 seconds, they broke the arena record of 7.1 that Hanchey had set two years ago. Indeed, with Timber Moore third in 6.9 and Westyn Hughes fourth in 7.0, Hanchey dropped all the way to fifth on Oakley's all-time list. He was also fifth in this year's field in 7.3, which means that he now has the fifth and seventh-fastest times in Oakley's history.
Father Knows Best: Cody Wright captured his second Western Stampede (West Jordan, Utah) title in five years, and this one was a little special in that his sons, Rusty and Ryder, finished just behind him in second and third. Cody's 86-point ride on The Cervi Brothers' ironically named Bickering Brothers was one point better than Rusty, and Ryder was one point back of his brother. The Wright clan claimed the first four spots at the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede with Cody's younger brother, Jake, winning with 88 points, followed by Cody and then, in a tie for third, Rusty and Jake's twin brother, Jesse. Rusty finished with $24,596, which was tops among saddle bronc riders during Cowboy Christmas, and fourth overall – behind Hanchey, Bennett and barrel racer Taylor Jacob ($28,316).
The top Cowboy Christmas money earners in team roping were Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, who each earned $22,884. Garrett Tribble was the high-earner in bull riding with $18,543, and steer wrestler Clayton Hass topped the bulldogging list with $16,714.