Saddle bronc riders keep competition close
DENVER – The final round of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo had plenty of tight competition at the Denver Coliseum, Jan. 27. In the bareback riding alone, the top six cowboys in the average were within 2.5 points of each other going into Round 3.
The close competition wasn’t limited to bareback riding. Saddle bronc riding and bull riding’s top contenders were within a few points of each other and the timed events’ top riders were all within half a second of each other in the aggregate.
Bareback rider Clint Laye, 25, rallied from fifth place in the average heading to the final round to win in Denver with 252.5 points on three head.
Laye, who placed third in the first round with an 86.5-point ride, was two points behind leader Garrett Shadbolt heading into the final round.
“That’s right where I want to be – in the middle of that because the tougher the competition is, the tougher you will ride,” Laye said.
Fittingly, his final draw was Calgary Stampede’s Added Money, the same horse Richmond Champion won the first round on with an 88-point ride. As the final round approached, Laye knew he was in for a good ride.
“When I looked at the short-go horses, he was the one I wanted,” Laye said. “He’s just a big, stout horse, and I thought he would fit my style.”
Laye’s 86.5-point ride in the final round put him in a three-way tie for second in the round with Tanner Aus and Cole Reiner.
More importantly, that ride gave him the one-point difference he needed to win the coveted Denver buckle and $8,601 as he claimed the average with 252.5 points on three head.
“This is my first rodeo of the year, so my confidence will be up,” Laye said. “It puts a good cushion in the bank to hit my winter run, and just having the Denver title means a lot to me.”
Laye is no stranger to success, as he ranked 10th in the 2015 world standings when he placed in four rounds at his first Wrangler NFR. This was his fifth time competing in Denver since joining the PRCA in 2012.
“It’s one rodeo I’ve dang-sure wanted to win for a long time,” Laye said. “At this level of rodeo where there is such great competition, all the cards have to fall in the right place, and they did for me this year.”
As the dust settled in the Denver Coliseum, Laye hit the road for the San Angelo (Texas) Rodeo, which runs Feb. 1-15.
Other winners at the $478,326 rodeo were all-around cowboy Rhen Richard ($3,226, tie-down roping and team roping); steer wrestler Ty Erickson (11.9 seconds on three head); team ropers Clay Smith/Jake Long (13.9 seconds on three head); saddle bronc rider Spencer Wright (254 points on three head); barrel racer Jennifer Sharp (45.89 seconds on three runs); and bull rider Brody Yeary (248.5 points on three head).
For more coverage of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, check out the Feb. 8 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.
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