Jake Finlay wins $12,696 at Extreme Broncs
Winning three gold buckles in three countries on two continents may sound like a tall order, but Australian saddle bronc rider Jake Finlay is taking on that challenge. His confidence is higher than ever thanks to starting the 2020 season by winning $12,696 at the Brad Gjermundson Extreme Broncs competition in New Town, N.D., Oct. 19.
“There are a few big differences between Australian and U.S. rodeo – the horses for sure buck harder and the level of stock and competition is incredible (in the U.S.),” Finlay said. “Then there’s the money, you can’t make a living rodeoing back home. It’s an incredible thing to come over here and make a really good living doing it.”
Narrowly missing the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo by ranking 17th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $76,612 wasn’t the only reason Finlay was determined to win in New Town.
“A bronc match like that won’t go away next year, something like that sticks around for 100 years,” Finlay said. “It’s special to win the first one, especially since it’s the Brad Gjermundson bronc match. He’s been an idol of mine since I was knee high to a grasshopper.”
Gjermundson was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1995 as a four-time world champion (1981, 1983-85). Finlay, 24, was born 10 years after Gjermundson’s final world title and on the other side of the world.
Finlay won Round 2 at the Brad Gjermundson Extreme Broncs competition with 87.5 points on Burch Rodeo’s Frontier Justice and placed third in the final round with 85.5 points to win the average by half a point at 252 points on three head.
“I was expecting her (Frontier Justice) to be nicer than that,” Finlay said. “She pulled everything but a knife on me and gave me a chance to get some points. I thought she would jerk me back to Australia for a minute, but they all felt really good.”
This is Finlay’s fifth year competing in the U.S., most of which was spent competing on the Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo team, where he won the 2018 saddle bronc riding college national title.
“From the get-go in the U.S., you’re gunning with the best guys in the world,” Finlay said. “I never dreamed I would be doing this for a living. It’s an incredible thing to come over here, and it’s very daunting when you first get here, but college rodeo was a great transition. That gave me a huge advantage in winning the college national title and then stepping into the pro ranks.”
The Australian cowboy ranked fifth in the 2017 PRCA | Resistol Rookie Standings with $13,683 and ended the 2018 season ranked 41st in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $27,519.
Finlay credited his ProRodeo success in 2019 to traveling with Cort Scheer, Chet Johnson and Tyler Corrington.
“Those guys are old,” Finlay joked. “They all know how to enter and rodeo and what perfs to enter for. Those guys are the reason I did well this past year. There’s a lot of credit to them, but they’d never say it since they’re so humble.”
Now, Finlay is set to compete at the upcoming Canadian Finals Rodeo having ranked eighth in the 2019 Canadian standings.
A Canadian buckle would be the first in his hoped-for trifecta.
“I don’t want to go home until I get a gold buckle,” Finlay said. “My ultimate goal is to win the world, Canada and Australia for two continents and three countries.”