HEMPSTEAD, Texas – Winn Ratliff won a share of the bareback riding championship at last year’s Waller County Fair and Rodeo.
He’d like to win it all this year. On Friday night during the rodeo’s second performance, the Louisiana cowboy rode Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Cimmaron for 86 points to take the lead. He’ll await Saturday’s final show to see how he finishes the weekend.
“My first horse was a Pete Carr horse called Blue Smoke,” said Ratliff, who will compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this coming December for the second time in three years. “Every once in a while, he’ll throw a little fit, and tonight he decided he didn’t want to perform, so we decided to give him a break and give me a reride.
“I had some history with Cimmaron and knew him real well. He’s a real nice horse and just circled around to the left. He’s real showy, and I just tried to do my part by making a strong ride.”
It worked. Ratliff may have been assisted by the 8 Second Bareback Shootout, a head-to-head match between Clint Cannon of Waller, Texas, and Richie Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, both of whom are NFR qualifiers. It was a historical special event for the Waller County rodeo. Though it wasn’t part of the ProRodeo, it was a highlighted event in which both cowboys put on exceptional rides – Cannon won the match with a 90-point ride on Pete Carr’s River Blast, two points better than Champion’s ride on Carr’s Little Sister.
“It definitely helps when you see two of the top guys make jam-up rides,” said Ratliff of Leesville, La. “It makes you want to show out. I’m thankful I could see that. It definitely got my riding juices flowing.”
The 25-year-old cowboy finished the 2014 regular season ninth in the world standings, having earned $73,000. With this being the first week of the 2015 season, he was excited to get off to a good start.
“September was a tough month because I wasn’t drawing good and just wasn’t riding good,” Ratliff said. “Toward the end and to now, my confidence has shot back really high. My year’s been a blessing; I just tried to keep my priorities in line and not take anything for granted, because we’re never promised tomorrow.”
He is in great shape to collect a nice payday in Hempstead.
“Last night I was at my hometown rodeo, and I kind of choked,” he said. “I came over here and knew I needed to redeem myself.”
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Winn Ratliff, 86 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Cimmaron; 2. Kyle Brennecke, 84; 3. Wyatt Denny, 82; 4. (tie) Will Lowe and Anthony Thomas, 79; 6. Bee Jay Scott, 78; 7. Kash Wilson, 77; 8. Ethan Assmann, 75.
Steer wrestling: 1. Darrell Petry, 4.0 seconds; 2. Bill Pace 4.4; 3. (tie) Aaron Vosler and Tommy Cook, 4.6; 5. Jarret New, 4.9; 3. Matt Cupp, 8.4; 6. (tie) Adam Strahan and Donelle Goodman, 5.9.
Team roping: 1. Lane Ivy/Tommy Zuniga, 5.0 seconds; 2. Kenton Woodson, 5.5; 3. (tie) Logan Olson/Travis Woodard, Tyler Waters/Kory Koontz, Jake Cooper, Tyler McKnight and David Key/Martin Lucero, 5.8; 7. Justin Davis/Colby Lovell, 5.9; 8. Nathan McWhorter/Cole Davison, 6.0.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 80 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Icycle; 2. Bradley Harter, 79; 3. (tie) Dean Wadsworth, Justin Caylor and Kobyn Williams, 78; 6. Isaac Diaz, 77.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Matt Shiozawa, 7.9 seconds; 2. Houston Hutto, 8.9; 3. Ross Tucker,9.0; 4. Ace Slone, 9.2; 5. Timber Moore, 9.3; 6. Marty Yates, 9.6.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Kelly Tovar, 14.52 seconds; 2. Amanda Davenport, 14.64; 3. Mary Walker, 14.75; 4. Sydni Blanchard, 14.82; 5. Lisa Thornton, 14.85; 6. Morgan Breaux, 14.89; 7. Brittany Grant, 14.90; 8. Christy Loflin, 14.91; 9. Taylor Jacob, 14.93; 10. Brittany Kelly, 15.02; 11. Kelly Allen, 15.05; 12. Tiffani Sonnier, 15.06.
Bull riding: 1. (tie) Zeb Lanham, on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Rainbow, and Chad German, on Lancaster & Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Kubota, 85 points; 3. Jay Turner, 83; 4. Nile Lebaron, 81; 5. Toby Collins, 71; no other qualified rides.