LAS VEGAS – Gold Coast Katie wasn’t the prettiest girl in the bareback riding dance on Tuesday night, but she was just what Matt Bright needed in his second trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Bright, of Azle, Texas, rode the Classic Pro Rodeo horse for 76 points, good enough for sixth place in the sixth go-round and a check worth $2,885. More importantly, it helped change some momentum for the Tennessee-born cowboy, who cashed at ProRodeo’s grand finale for the first time this season.
“It’s a pretty big weight off my shoulders,” Bright said. “After five days of not winning a check, it was getting pretty frustrating. It’s nice to say I’ve won something here.”
He hopes it continues, because he’s one of the elite bareback riders in the business. The proof is in his opportunity to ride the toughest horses in rodeo in Las Vegas, home of just the top 15 contestants in the world standings at the end of the rodeo season. The NFR has the biggest purse in ProRodeo, worth $6 million over 10 nights in the Nevada desert.
It’s where cowboys and cowgirls battle for big pay. Go-round winners earn nightly paydays of $17,885.
“It s like a whole new rodeo everyday,” Bright said. “It’s not hard to come back with a good attitude the next day even if you didn’t do good the day before, just because you’re going for the biggest paycheck that we get to go at all year every time you nod your head. It’s just a good motivator to go and do it again. It might take six days, but you get a check out of it.”
He’s ready to collect a lot more, but he knows just how hard it is to cash in when competing against the best horses in the business and the greatest bareback riders who travel down the rodeo trail.
“With the way that the week started out, I’m just going to try to have fun and let it roll and see what happens, because there’s still a lot of money to be had,” Bright said. “I’m just going to try to get my share of it.”