LAS VEGAS – Bareback rider Matt Bright contributes his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo success to numerous factors.
He’s riding without injury, which is rare in a sport where a cowboy’s hand is virtually locked onto the back of a bucking beast; he’s had great support; and, most importantly, Bright has his mind in the right place. Now in his third straight trip to sport’s grand finale, he’s having solid success.
“It seems like I’ve been real good at trying to treat it like a new rodeo every day,” said Bright, who has placed in four rounds, most recently an runner-up finish in Friday’s ninth go-round after posting an 84-point ride on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Dunny – so far, Bright has pocketed $33,668 in his nine days in Las Vegas, including the $14,429 he earned Friday.
“You’re getting to go at $18,000 every day,” he said, referring to the $18,257 that is paid to go-round winners for each of the NFR’s 10 nights. “That’s more than we get to nod for in one ride anywhere all year long. Getting on one horse for $18,000 … that’s the biggest rodeo you get all year. That’s probably why I’ve had a lot more success.”
How much better is the 2012 championship than the previous two? Bright entered this season with just two NFR go-round checks, one each in 2010-2011. Friday’s second-place finish was his best so far – he finished in a tie for third in the third round, tied for fifth in the fourth and finished fourth in the seventh. Having a great Texas horse worked out quite well for the Texas cowboy.
“I knew, by word of mouth, that I had a good horse,” he said of Dunny. “I was pretty excited. Me and Stace matched up yesterday, so I kind of wanted to redeem myself on one of his horses.”
Bright was referring to his 77-point ride atop Smith’s R.D. Mercer in the eighth go-round.
‘This is the most consistent I feel I’ve had at the finals,” Bright said. “I’ve had a no score and a couple bad rides, but I think I’ve been really good about not bringing it to the table the next day and starting fresh the next day, and I think that’s been a factor in riding as well as I have.
“I’ve won 10 times as much as I’ve won my whole life.”