Pope cashes in during Round 2

Home - Uncategorized - Pope cashes in during Round 2

LAS VEGAS – While most people come to this shiny, desert town for fun and frivolity, reigning world champion bareback rider Jess Pope considers it a business trip.

He’s definitely doing his job inside the Thomas & Mack Center during the opening two days of the National Finals Rodeo. He has finished third two nights in a row, with his most recent coming after an 84.5-point ride on Rafter G Rodeo’s Ankle Biter. He earned another $18,325 and pushed his NFR earnings to $46,650 – all contestants also receive a $10,000 qualifying bonus.

“The nice thing about rodeo is you don’t always have to win first,” said Pope, 25, of Waverly, Kansas. “A guy can’t win first all the time, but you kind of stay under the radar when you’re second or third, and it still pays a ton of money, especially out here.”

Pope has pushed his season earnings to nearly $175,000 and has moved up five spots to fifth in the world standings with eight nights remaining in the 2023 campaign.

“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “It’s something a guy works hard for all year, so it’s really nice to be able to get here and get rewarded for it. I got a lot of confidence out of my first-round ride. I’ve been off since October first. I got on two practice horses since then, so it’s always a little nerve-wracking to get on the first one.

“It feels good to get it knocked out, and now you just get into a routine and go to work. You ride it and enjoy it while you can.”

In addition to his world title a year ago, Pope has won the last three NFR average titles. After just two nights, he is in the aggregate race. It’s way too early to be concerned with that. With go-rounds paying nearly $31,000 to each day’s winners, there are great opportunities to cash in.  

Round 3 will feature the hardest-to-ride bucking horses in the game, the eliminator pen. Tensions rise, because the bareback riders realize they’ll be matched with an animal that likes to fight. Las Vegas is the perfect place to host that kind of bout.

“You’re always excited getting on, and now we’re going into the eliminator night tomorrow,” Pope said. “That’s always an exciting night.”


Leave A Comment


Latest News