LAS VEGAS – At a lot of rodeos Cole Franks went to this season, a $1,555 payday for an eight-second ride was pretty nice.
At the richest rodeo in the world, though, it’s just a nice way to stay in the game. That’s the way it went Friday for Franks, who rode Rafter G Rodeo’s Ankle Biter for 83.5 points. He finished in a three-way tie for sixth place in the second go-round and collected his second check of this year’s National Finals Rodeo.
“I’ve never been on that horse, but I’ve at least seen him a few times,” said Franks, 21, of Clarendon, Texas. I went back and watched videos of (Clayton) Biglow on him in ’19 here, and he was 91.5 on him. I was hoping for that trip.
“He usually stays closer (to the chutes) and circles around and will turn back around at about six or seven seconds. (The judges) have always seemed to like when he does that, and I was hoping for that, but that just didn’t happen.”
It worked out fine, though. He finished in a tie for fifth place in the opening round, so he’s pushed his NFR earnings to nearly $18,000. Now in just his second year qualifying for ProRodeo’s championship event, he’s gaining a strong understanding of what it takes to be successful.
“I feel like last year started off a lot better than I have this year,” he said. “When the time comes, I’ll be ready. There are eight horses left to go. I’m not too worried about it. I’m going to take it on tomorrow and try to win in the (eliminator) pen. If you can do it, that’s doing a lot.”
The third- and eighth-round of bareback horses are the hardest-to-ride broncs in the game. Each of the 15 men in the lineup will be tested. Through a random draw, Franks is matched with Powder River Rodeo’s Dirty Work, a horse that bucked off half the men who tried to ride it in 2022.
“Last year I was almost dreading the E pen a little bit,” Franks said. “It was my first time being here, my first E pen, so it was nerve wracking. I’m looking forward to it now. About halfway through the year this year, I was ready for more of the strong buckers just to test myself a little more, so I’m looking forward to the strong pen.”
It takes that type of mentality to handle the challenges the NFR offers.