Calgary Stampede·Preview

Rodeo finals add intrigue to closing days of Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is heading into its final few days, and hopeful rodeo contestants have been battling for spots in the Sunday Showdown all week. Both saddle bronc riding and bull riding are deep into their runs, with hopefuls looking to reach the final stage. Pool A has wrapped up in both competitions, while Pool B is heading into its final day on Friday.

23-year-old Zeke Thurston looking to make history with 4th straight saddle bronc win

Saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston is looking to become the first person to win four straight Calgary Stampede rodeo championships. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The Calgary Stampede is heading into its final few days, and hopeful rodeo contestants have been battling for spots in the Sunday Showdown all week.

Both saddle bronc riding and bull riding are deep into their runs, with hopefuls looking to reach the final.

Pool A has wrapped up in both disciplines, while Pool B is heading into its final day on Friday. The top four from each pool get a direct bye into Sunday's finals, while the rest will have to fight for a last-chance berth on Wild Card Saturday. 

Showdown Sunday and Wild Card Saturday start at 3:30 p.m. ET live on CBC television, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. 

Thurston looks to make saddle bronc history

A saddle with no horn and a 1,200 pound bronc horse, here's how some riders make it look so easy. 1:51

Albertans Clay Elliott and Zeke Thurston headline the saddle broncs after roaring into the top two spots in Pool A.

Elliott, of Nanton, Alta., had four consistent runs, earning him first place in the pool. By finishing high man in Pool A, he picks up $14,000.

Meanwhile, Big Valley, Alta., native Thurston posted the pool's high score of 89 in his opening run and he'll be looking to make history on Sunday by becoming the first person ever to win four straight Calgary Stampede rodeo championships in any discipline.

No cowboy has won more than three titles in a row. The 23-year-old has earned $13,500 thus far.

Zeke Thurston celebrates winning the saddle bronc rodeo finals for the third year in a row at the Calgary Stampede in July, 2017. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Isaac Diaz and Cody DeMoss rounded out the top four, earning $11,500 and $11,000, respectively.

DeMoss won the final run in Pool A with an 89-point ride on a horse called Curly Bill.

"Outstanding animal," said DeMoss, from Louisiana. "He really had a good day with me. You know, when a feller gets tapped off on a bucker, that's the funnest thing to do. That was one of them right there. That's why we ride bucking horses, to get on like that and to ride like that."

Brotherly love

Pool B was dominated by two brothers from Milford, Utah.

Ryder Wright won the pool after winning three consecutive rounds, which included a high score for the week of 92 on his second run and a third-run score of 90.

American Ryder Wright's score of 90 in the saddle bronc was the top mark on the afternoon, while his brother Rusty's score of 87.5 was good enough for a share of second place. 2:49

His older brother Rusty Wright kept pace, earning impressive scores of 86.50 and 87.50 in two of his runs to put him in second.

Ryder has earned $20,000, while Rusty has $12,500 banked.

Americans Wade Sundell and Cort Scheer were third and fourth, and earned $9,250 and $9,000, respectively.

Canadians in bull riding mix

There's one rider, one bull and a long list of variables in this wild eight-second ride. 1:42

Joe Frost finished first in Pool A after a fourth and final ride of 87.50 points on the C5 bull Big Dip. The extra $5,500 gave him the front-runner spot in the pool with a total of $15,000. Cooper Davis of Texas finished second overall with $10,000, followed by Brazilian Fabiano Vieira at $8000, and Ty Wallace with $7500.

Pool B was a tight race, with fourth place coming down to a three-way tiebreaker. 

Edmonton-based Brazilian Marcos Gloria won the tie on the strength of his week-high score of 90.50 in his fourth run on Friday to finish with $8,000. Americans Cody Nance ($10,500), Sage Kimzey ($10,000) and Brazilian Ramon De Lima ($9,500) also got the bye into Showdown Sunday. 

Jared Parsonage of Maple Creek, Sask., and Ponoka, Alta., native Zane Lambert will have a second chance to reach the final on Wild Card Saturday. 

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