July 12th, 2024

Plenty up for grabs entering Stampede rodeo weekend

By Ryan McCracken on July 27, 2017.

South Dakota's Chuck Schmidt rides to a day-winning 84.5-point ride on Bonus Alley during the saddle bronc event at the Friday, July 29, 2016 Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede rodeo.


Cowboys and cowgirls from across Canada and the United States will hit the dirt for the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede rodeo tonight at 4:45 p.m., but the real stars will be walking on four legs.

Stampede general manager Jim MacArthur says fans can expect a weekend of white-knuckle action thanks in part to a long-standing relationship with one of the world’s top stock contractors, Kesler Rodeo.

“Our current stock contractor, Duane, he’s actually a grandson of Reg Kesler. Reg was essentially the first stock contractor we had here in Medicine Hat many years ago. It’s generational,” he said. “Things develop over time and the horses in particular are getting tougher and tougher. The bulls I think have always been pretty tough, but it really shows in the horses. The breeding programs the Keslers have put together over the years are really paying off. They’re great looking horses and horses that cowboys can win on … It’s not uncommon to have several of his stock in both the Canadian Finals Rodeo and the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.”

Reigning Medicine Hat bull riding champion Brock Radford will be back in the chutes tonight to defend his title. The Dewinton product topped Maple Creek’s Jared Parsonage by a half-point to clinch last year’s buckle with an 81.5-point ride and sits fifth in this season’s CPRA standings.

Garrett Smith holds bull riding’s top spot with $25,055 in winnings despite competing in only nine events this year. The Idaho product will hit the dirt for Friday night’s performance.

Airdrie’s Jake Vold enters the weekend atop the bareback rankings and is siet to debut in Saturday’s event after missing out on last year’s Stampede rodeo. After collecting a pair of top finishes last weekend — winning the Manitoba Stampede with an 85.5-point ride and taking second at Edmonton’s K-Days Rodeo at 85.5 points — it’s safe to say the reigning CPRA bareback champion is on a roll entering Saturday’s bareback.

“He’s certainly a well-known competitor,” said MacArthur, adding he’s one of many who could find themselves at the CFR or NFR at the end of the season. “We did a tally last year and I think out of 120 competitors who were at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, there had been 22 or 23 who competed in Medicine Hat. We get really great quality cowboys and cowgirls.”

Things continue to heat up in the saddle bronc event with a push for second in the standings. While Meeting Creek’s Layton Green holds a comfortable $13,321 lead on first place in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s saddle bronc standings with $33,702 in total winnings, the battle for second place is still very much up for grabs.

Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston holds a $6,589.66 lead on reigning CPRAchampion Clay Elliott, and Sylvan Lake’s Lane Cust sits just behind. With Thurston not taking part in the Stampede rodeo, expect to see Elliott and Cust try to make a push on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

“When it gets to this time of the year, the competition gets pretty fierce,” said MacArthur.

All three performances will also feature tie-down roping, ladies barrel racing, bareback riding, steer wrestling and team roping. Friday’s performance will kick off at 7 p.m. followed by Saturday’s at 1:30 p.m.

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