Sundance at NFR

On his last trip to the WNFR, Flying 5’s, 23-year-old saddle bronc horse Sundance bucked his rider NFR qualifer, Clay Elliott, off before the whistle on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The good thing for Jake Pratt is the fact that he moved up a place in the average. The bad thing for the Ellensburg tie-down roper is he didn’t make a dime during Wednesday’s seventh round of the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Both Pratt and Ellensburg’s Minor brothers – Brady and Riley – left the arena without paychecks but have three more rounds to go before the end of the 2018 season.

Pratt was one of the final ropers out on Wednesday, having watched a handful of seven-second times and a few others nine seconds and beyond. Pratt stopped the clock in 8.7 seconds to finish eighth in the go-round that pays six deep each night. Pratt moves from 12th to 11th in the average that pays eight deep, so he still has plenty of work to do the next three nights: tie the calves fast since there isn’t any time to slowly move up in the average with just three rounds to go.

Tyson Durfey not only won the round with a 7.2-second calf, but it was the former Washington cowboy’s first check of the NFR. The $26,231 payday might help numb some of the sting of the week.

“This feels absolutely amazing,” Durfey told the PRCA. “I went from not placing in any go-round on my young horse Mitch to winning this round. Before we came here, he had been to 14 rodeos in his life. He’s 14, but he was a working cow horse before he was a calf horse. I haven’t roped on him very much, and I’m thankful to get a win on him.”

Durfey’s best horse, Nikko, passed away less than a month ago.

For the Minor brothers, it was their second straight no-time (and third overall) as Riley Minor missed the head catch one day after Brady Minor swung and missed on the heel side Tuesday night. Worse yet, the miscue dropped them from sixth to 10th in the average.

Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates continue to hold the lead in the team roping average as the only team with seven qualified times. The team has won checks in six of seven rounds, including sixth-place money on Wednesday. Derrick Begay/Cory Petska and Luke Brown/Jake Long split the go-round win with 3.9-second steers.

Barrel racer Hailey Kinsel is rolling now, winning her second straight round (and third overall) riding Sister to a 13.61-second pattern. Kinsel’s $26,231 payday pushed her to $313,046 on the year. She’s third in the average behind leader Jessica Routier.

“The run felt really good. Sister felt really good and honest tonight, worked really great and the ground felt great, too,” Kinsel told the WPRA. “It’s nice to have a shot at (the world title) and I think everybody who comes here has a shot at it because of all the money here.”

It might be easy to miss bareback rider Steven Dent as well as saddle bronc rider CoBurn Bradshaw. Neither roughstock riders are winning go-rounds, but what they are doing is methodically picking up checks and holding strong at the top of their respective averages. Bradshaw has placed in four rounds — ironically all fourth-place checks — and leads the average over Wade Sundell by one…ride. Bradshaw is the lone saddle bronc rider to make the eight-second whistle each night. Sundell and Chase Brooks split Wednesday’s win with 90-point rides.

For Dent, he’s earned five checks — including the last three rounds — and leads the aggregate by 2.5 points over Tilden Hooper. Manitoba, Canada, cowboy Orin Larsen won the round with an 89 on Frontier Rodeo’s Tip Off.

The battle continues between Will Lummus and Tyler Waguespack in steer wrestling. While both are trailing world leader Curtis Cassidy in the world standings, the gap is less than $20,000 and Cassidy is 13th in the average while Lummus and Waguespack are 1-2, with just a 1.7-second differential (28.9 to 30.6 seconds on seven head). Lummus and Waguespack split third with 3.7-second times on Wednesday and Tyler Pearson and Hunter Cure split the win with 3.6-second steers.

After two buckoffs to open the NFR, bull rider Jeff Askey has picked up five straight checks and leads the average as the only bull rider with five qualified rides. Camas, Ore., cowboy Chase Dougherty won Wednesday’s perf with an 87.5 on Frontier Rodeo’s Lookin’ Up for $27,077 after earning some ground money on top of the usual $26,231 check.

In the All-Around, Rhen Richard and Tuf Cooper all won cash in Wednesday’s tie-down. Cooper’s third place check of $15,654 pushed him to $278,838 in the All-Around, $19,700 behind world leader Trevor Brazile. Richard’s fifth place in the event added $6,769 to his overall earnings and is less than $600 away from $200,000.

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