The market was simply ‘bull’-ish at the second installment of the bull riding lead-in event for the Ponoka Stampede.
Many of the top competitors in the Professional Bull Riders Association (PBR) literally hit the Stampede infield hard as only 11 of the 30 riders reached the eight-second limit in the qualifying round.
Two Ponoka cowboys did earn some cash after exceptional opening round rides, only to miss out on a bigger payday by getting bucked off in the 10-man final. Okotoks’ Jordan Hansen won the event, being only one of two riders to put up a score in the championship round.
Wacey Finkbeiner put up an 84.5 on Shot of Whiskey in the opening round and came oh-so-close to walking off with the title. However, his ride on Venom in the final missed the eight second horn by a whisker. Although a bit disappointed, the overall fourth place finish is Finkbeiner’s best of the season to date.
Meanwhile, Zane Lambert scored an 84 on Apex in the first round though didn’t last long out of the chute in the final on Pound the Alarm.
One other Ponoka cowboy, Tyler Pankewitz, joined the ranks of those on the outside looking in after Fire Nails dumped him shortly after the chute opened.
For Lambert, missing that final ride meant he couldn’t follow up on his victory one week earlier at the PBR Canada Tour stop in Wanham, AB, in addition losing his top spot in the PBR Canadian National standings to Hansen.
“I really have to try and finish things off,” Lambert said.
“The bulls in the final round are better, with an 80 to 85 percent buck off rate, so they are much harder to ride.”
And despite only having made Ponoka his home for the last six years or so, it’s always great to be able to perform for the local crowd.
“The grounds are a great place to ride, it’s hard and helps set up our rides nice. And the crowd is excellent, they really get into it and that makes me feel really comfortable,” he added.
All three will be back this week for the Ponoka Stampede and competing on Canada Day (July 1).
“Hopefully, I’ll stick around for the Monday showdown,” he said in a serious tone with a slight chuckle at the end.
“I’ve been coming to the Stampede since I was 18 and there is nothing like it. I can’t wait after having missed it last year with an injury.”