Simpson/Buhler in lead after Ponoka Stampede Day 1

Ponoka cowboy Levi Simpson and healer Jeremy Buhler in lead after Ponoka Stampede Day 1

Results from Day 1 of the Ponoka Stampede show team roping world champions Levi Simpson and his partner, healer Jeremy Buhler, in the lead.

Ponoka’s Simpson and Buhler — from Arrowwood — showed June 27 they still have what it takes on the first day of the Ponoka Stampede.

All the timed events get two tries — one in the morning slack and then at the rodeo show. The pair faired well in both with a 6.7 second performance in the morning and then 6.2 seconds in the evening.

It’s still early days yet at the Ponoka Stampede, but the pair are in a decent position to make it to the final round set for the afternoon of July 3. Those competitors then have a chance at the big money in the rodeo showdown performance that evening.

For the rest of the Ponoka cowboys, steer wrestler Brock Butterfield did well in the morning slack with a catch of 7.5 seconds. However, he being unable to catch the steer during the evening performance hurt his chances at a finals run.

Ponoka’s long score run in the event has proven challenging for many steer wrestlers, with several posting no times in the evening.

Another world champion showed his grit with saddlebronc rider Zeke Thurston managing a decent 83.75 riding Kesler’s horse Paper Clip. The performance landed him top spot in the saddlebronc standings, for now. However, it’s a long week of rodeo and anything can happen at the Ponoka Stampede.

Immediately after the rodeo performance, a once-in-a-lifetime race occured with three generations of Sutherlands taking the stage to celebrate the much decorated career of Kelly Sutherland — who is retiring from chuckwagon racing this year.

Kelly raced Kirk, Mark and grandson Dayton in a charity race with Mark eventually winning out overall. The charity event proceeds will be distributed to the Ponoka Festival of Trees and the Pacekids program in Calgary.

Opening night also brought popular country group Diamond Rio to the main stage followed by fireworks to close out the evening.

Other notables from the evening: Tillar Murray from Fort Worth, TX is in top spot for barrel racing with a time of 17.748 seconds, bareback rider JR Vezain sits first at 85.25 after a strong ride on Copper Cat, Marcos Gloria was the only bull rider to score with an 82.5 riding Blind Spot and tie down roper Cory Solomon sits first at 8.7 seconds.

Rodeo action continues throughout the week.