Richmond Champion wins Redding Rodeo for first time ​

REDDING, Calif. – PRCA rodeo victories are common place for bareback rider Richmond Champion, and now he can check another one off his list.

Champion had an 88-point rodeo-record ride on Big Stone Rodeo Inc.’s Hombre to claim the championship at the Redding Rodeo, a ProRodeo Tour stop.

“I had never been on that horse, but I had seen him quite a bit, he’s been a good one for a long time,” Champion said. “I was pretty pleased to find out I had him. He’s a solid horse, an old campaigner. With the weather coming in, it worked to my advantage. He must have been feeling fresh, and he didn’t want to go diving off into any mud puddles. He stayed close and was everything I wanted. This was a great rodeo to finally win.”

Champion, who bought his PRCA card in 2012, made his ride May 16. That ride earned him $5,224 and pushed him to fourth in the May 20 PRCA | RAM World Standings with $71,682.

Champion set the Redding Rodeo record, surpassing the 87-point rides by Cody Jessee (2000) and Clint Cannon (2007).

“(Hombre) was a rider-friendly horse, and he had a few direction changes,” Champion said. “He wasn’t a superstar, but he was a really nice horse to get on, and he got me a good check.”

Champion is a four-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (2014, 2016-18). He finished a career-best second in the world standings in 2017 with $268,511. That year, he won Round 8 and split the win in Round 2 while placing in seven rounds to rank second in the average with 847.5 points on 10 head.

Champion’s past success has him focused on one thing in 2019 – a world title.

“The end game for sure is to get that gold buckle,” Champion said. “That’s the goal that has been there since Day 1. I think every year I feel like I’m a little bit closer to it, and I have a good feeling about this year.”

Champion acknowledged he’s in the best shape of his life.

“The sport as a whole has got very tough over the last five years or so, and if you’re not putting the time in the gym, it is really hard to stay up there with everybody else,” Champion said. “Everybody is working day in and day out. I have put together an awesome team. I have a great trainer, LeeAnne Gullett, and a nutritionist, Angie Asche. They are right there at my fingertips if I need anything. I have had LeeAnne helping me since last October, and Angie has been on my team since January.”

Forming a team to get him fit is something Champion said his fiancée, Paige Lawrence, a pairs figure skater for Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, was instrumental with. Champion and Lawrence are getting married May 25 in Kennedy, Saskatchewan, at her family’s ranch.

“It’s going to be a busy week for me,” Richmond said.

Other winners at the $163,681 rodeo were all-around cowboy Rhett Kennedy ($1,566, steer wrestling and team roping); steer wrestler Miles Switzer (8.8 seconds on two head); team ropers Tanner Baldwin/Nano Garza (12.1 seconds on two head); saddle bronc rider Jake Watson (88 points on Four Star Rodeo’s Wall Street); tie-down roper Taylor Santos (18.8 seconds on two head); barrel racer Jackie Ganter, (17.53 seconds); and bull rider Parker McCown (87 points on Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Red Beard).

Watson’s ride was a rodeo record. The record was an 86-point ride shared by Mel Coleman (1980); Cody DeMoss (2006); Jake Wright (2012) and Jacobs Crawley (2015).

To read more about the Redding Rodeo, check out the May 31 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.