Tim O’Connell keeps rolling with win at world’s oldest rodeo in Prescott, AZ
Bareback rider Tim O’Connell admitted he “feels good” and that’s bad news for the competition.
O’Connell rode his way to three consecutive PRCA world championships from 2016-18, but tough luck and a nasty injury interrupted his run the past two seasons.
His recent activities suggest O’Connell could return to the top of the sport in the crown jewel event. He has hit his stride in the past four rodeos. He split third at the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede and the St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo, took fourth at the Greeley (Colo.) Stampede, and won the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Ariz. The latter holds particular significance because of the stock.
O’Connell rode Boom Boom Girl for the first time in Prescott, a stop on the NFR Playoff Series presented by Pendleton Whisky, though he had some inside intel. His brother Will O’Connell, a former bullfighter, saddle bronc rider and pickup man, provided the horse from Championship Pro Rodeo.
“He said he was going to be good. He sent me a couple of videos and he looked really nice,” O’Connell said before flying off to his next event. “He really put the trip together.”
Competing for the first time in a week, O’Connell produced an 87.5-point score, netting a purse of $6,556. Of course, O’Connell cherishes a win, but this event will stick with him because of horse and the organizers.
Prescott has earned the title World’s Oldest Rodeo for a reason, he explained.
“Honestly, they went above and beyond. The first night it was raining and hailing. I watched as the week went on and they had helicopters come in to try and dry the arena out and brought in new dirt to make it the best for all contestants, so they all had an equal shot,” said O’Connell, a past winner in Prescott. “There’s not a lot of rodeos that go above and beyond like that.”
O’Connell is a creature of habit in his routines, leading to consistency in his performance. He aims to return to the top of bareback riding after an injury sabotaged his run in 2021. He elected to have his tailbone removed, cutting short his regular season. He returned for the NFR but placed in only two rounds and finished sixth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings after carrying a No. 1 ranking before surgery.
Healthy and happy, O’Connell is riding like a champion again with confidence to match as he eyes another world title.
“Lately, it’s been one of my most successful runs,” O’Connell said. “If I am going to be away from my family, it’s about getting on good horses that I want to be on and having fun while I am doing it. When you put all those together, it’s pretty hard to beat me.”
Other winner at the $334,808 rodeo were all-around cowboy Seth Hall ($5,905, tie-down roping and team roping); steer wrestler Timmy Sparing (10.6 seconds on two head); team ropers Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira (12.9 seconds on two head); saddle bronc rider Tanner Butner (86.5 points on Championship Pro Rodeo’s Secret Angel); tie-down roper Richard Newton (20.5 second on two head); barrel racers Cheyenne Hattesen and Halyn Lide (34.83 seconds each on two runs); steer roper Cooper Mills (40.8 seconds on three head) and bull rider Canyon Bass (86 points on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Cabo).
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