LAS VEGAS – Richmond Champion’s phenomenal week in the Nevada desert just keeps getting better.
Champion rode Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Pretty Woman for 88 points Wednesday night to win the eighth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. That $26,231 pushed his NFR earnings to $103,853 and moved him past the $205,000 mark in his annual pay.
“It’s all part of the plan, but it is also so unexpected at the same time,” said Champion of The Woodlands, Texas. You always dream about the victory lap and to throw your arms up in the arena with big numbers on the board. To be able to do it this week as many times as I have has just been a blessing, and it’s humbling at the same time.
“I just can’t wait for the next two rounds.”
He should be excited about what the final two nights hold for him. He shared the second-round victory and has placed on six of eight nights so far. Thursday’s round featured the “eliminator” pen of bareback horses, the hardest-to-ride broncs in the game.
“Yeah, that’s a lot of bronco,” he said of the western Kansas-raised bucking horse. “It is her first trip out here. I asked the guys, the 15 best bareback riders in the world, and nobody knew what that horse was, which is ironic, because we voted them there.
“It worked out, and she deserved to be here. I was happy to have her.”
The NFR is a rugged test of endurance, mental toughness and physicality. Champion is handling it all quite well. After all, this is his third qualification in four years.
“Rounds 1 through 4, you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus,” he said. “It seems like after that, your muscles are awake again, and you are used to it. Your hand stops hurting, and you might need some Advil, but, no, I feel great.”
Part of that is the work he put in ahead of time. His brother, Doug, owns a crossfit gym in Huntsville, Texas, so Champion is reaping the rewards that come with that.
“The training that leads up to this is huge,” Champion said. “It helps with your recovery; it helps your ability, your balance. Connecting your mind with your body any time you are working out and pushing yourself, it pays off. It’s a marathon, and it’s hard.”
Yes, it is, but it’s also very rewarding.
“You want to expect things to happen, but when they do, you are never ready,” he said. “I’m star struck every night.”
Actually, he’s playing the role of superstar in Las Vegas this week.