Ponoka cowboys a bright light at Stampede Showdown

Several local cowboys take centre stage in Ponoka Stampede finale

For three Ponoka cowboys, there might be one or two other rodeo finals that might generate a bigger grin.

For Jake Vold and Levi Simpson though, getting a win at the Ponoka Stampede will never be any sweeter.

Vold rode Mucho Dinero to an 88.75 on the last ride of the bareback showdown to take the title and walk off with just over $17,500 in earnings. Vold beat out JR Vezain by just 0.25 points for the win.

“I didn’t ride as good as I wanted, but I was fortunate enough to get the win,” he said.

“Mucho Dinero was awesome, I just tried to go faster than him. Guess I got back and (the judges) still liked it.”

And the victory was just what Vold said he needed to help bump him up in the world standings, but that being it’s Ponoka made it even better.

“This is by far the greatest rodeo one could ever watch, it’s a phenomenal rodeo,” he said.

“To be from here and get the win again, it’s a pretty cool feeling. Hats off to the committee and what they have done with the stock the last few years has been excellent.”

Vold came into the showdown on top after posting the best score of the week — 90.75 — in the afternoon bareback for a two ride total of 177.25.

As for the world champion team ropers Simpson and partner Jeremy Buhler from Arrowwood, a six second run helped them walk away with just over $15,500. The pair started the showdown in second spot with a 20.1 second time on three head.

“This is the biggest rodeo for us and the top 10 anywhere. To come in and have the opportunity to rope for this kind of money and have success is awesome,” said Simpson, who earned his third win in Ponoka all with different partners.

“Last year was good all around, but it was good to come back here and prove again we can still compete. It’s good win at home with lots of people and support.”

Buhler added that not being able to close the deal last year in Ponoka made the redemption this time around feel great.

Unfortunately for the other Ponoka cowboy, Wacey Finkbeiner lost out in the bull riding showdown after being bucked off. However, he still earned just over $8,000 for the week with the help of an 88.25, which was the top score in the final on Monday afternoon.

Other cowboys

Saddle bronc world champ Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston got his first ever Ponoka win, scoring an 87.75 on Get Smart and walking off with just over $12,000.

“I’ve been coming here since I can remember, but Ponoka is awesome and I look forward to coming every year. They don’t make better rodeos than this,” he said.

Another area cowboy wasn’t as fortunate, as Meeting Creek’s Layton Green lost out in the saddle bronc. The current top ranked rider in Canada, Green was pitted against four former world champions and wound up missing out with a mark of 87 in the showdown.

In the ladies barrel racing, it was Carman Pozzobon riding off with the Stampede title, while it was Jason Schaffer collaring the tie down roping crown, Garrett Smith winning the bull riding and lastly, in the steer wrestling, it was Jason Thomas walking out with the gold buckle.

Chuckwagons Dash for Cash

Six days of racing came to an end Monday night (July 3) for the World Professional Chuckwagon Association with Kurt Bensmiller outlasting the other three qualifiers for the $50,000 Dash for Cash final.

Ponoka Stampede

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World champion team ropers header Levi Simpson, Ponoka, and heeler Jeremy Buhler, Arrowwood, celebrate after clocking a time of 6.0 seconds in the Ponoka Stampede showdown round July 3. The pair walked away with a total over $15,500 after the busy stampede week. Photos by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

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