Editor’s Note: Last Chance Stampede Press Release
HELENA — Without horses, there is no rodeo.
And without horses, Clay Elliott wouldn’t be doing something he loves.
The Nanton, Alberta cowboy leads the saddle bronc riding after the first night of the Last Chance Stampede in Helena, Mont.
Elliott scored 87 points to set the bar on Thursday, July 26 in Helena. He rode the Kesler Rodeo horse Bookmark, and he knew it would be a good match-up. “I knew he was a really nice horse,” Elliott said, “but he was better than I thought he would be. He’s the kind of horse to have, to show your stuff on. He does what you want a bucking horse to do: jump and kick, just really nice.”
Even if there wasn’t a financial reward, Elliott would ride saddle broncs. “I just love riding bucking horses. I don’t do it for the money.” Loving his job helps take the pressure off when things don’t go right. Ranked ninth in the world standings, there are always ups and downs in rodeo. “You have to be riding good, and you have to draw the right horse, and it comes together sometimes like this (in Helena), but it doesn’t always. It gets to messing with you (mentally), but I just love riding bucking horses.”
Elliott graduated from Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla., with a degree in animal science. He has competed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo twice (2016-2017).
A Montana cowboy was the only bull rider to make a qualified ride on Thursday night.
Brett Fitzpatrick, Polson, Montana, scored 75 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Rapid Fire.
His ride was unique; the bull has a habit of lying down in the chute, so Fitzpatrick called for the gate with the bull on the ground. It wasn’t the ideal situation, but it worked. “I wasn’t too comfortable with it, but I did it,” he said. “I’ve usually had my leg ripped off on the post when (the bull) comes out.”
And because of the odd start, the ride was more difficult. The bull “got me bent out of shape dang near the whole ride. I had to keep hustling. I was pretty surprised I made the whistle.”
Fitzpatrick, who is 23 years old, is in his second year of pro rodeo competition. He started in 2016 but shoulder surgery to prevent dislocation drained his bank account, and he took all of last year off of pro rodeo.
This year, he’s stayed in the Montana Circuit and it’s working for him. He’s ranked second in the circuit standings and is getting a feel for pro rodeos. “I’m liking it. It’s fun,” he said.
It was his first time to compete in Helena at the Last Chance Stampede. “It’s one of the bigger stages I’ve competed on, and for a guy like me that’s not really pro rodeoed a lot, it gets the nerves worked up, but we’re handling it OK.”
Other high scores and fast times from the rodeo include bareback rider Luke Creasy, Hobbs, N.M. (83 points); steer wrestler Rowdy Parrott, Mamou, La. (4.8 seconds); team ropers Pace Freed, Chubbuck, Idaho and Jade Anderson, Genola, Utah (4.8 seconds); tie-down roper Shay Keller, Rockglen, Sask. (10.6 seconds) and barrel racer Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, Texas (17.78 seconds).
The Last Chance Stampede continues tomorrow night with a Tough Enough to Wear Pink performance on Fri., July 27 at 7:30 pm. Fans are asked to wear pink for Tough Enough to Wear Pink night to support breast cancer research and awareness. For more information, visit the rodeo’s website at LastChanceStampede.com. Tickets are available online at www.LastChanceStampede.com and at the gate.
Fast times/high scores from the first performance of the 58th annual Last Chance Stampede, Helena, July 26, 2018
1. Luke Creasy, Hobbs, N.M. 83 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Garden Party; 2. Jake Vold, Ponoka, Alberta 81.5; 3. J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo. 81; 4. Caleb Bennett, Tremonton, Utah 78.
1. Rowdy Parrott, Mamou, La. 4.8 seconds; 2. Justin Shaffer, Hallsville, Texas 5.2; 3. Bryant Mikkelson, Cascade, Mont. 6.0; 4. Jacob Talley, Keatchie, La. 6.1.
1. Pace Freed, Chubbuck, Idaho/Jade Anderson, Genola, Utah 4.8 seconds; no other qualified runs.
Saddle bronc riding
1. Clay Elliott, Nanton, Alberta 87 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Bookmark; 2. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb. 84.5; 3. Chase Brooks, Deer Lodge, Mont. 81.5; 4. Tyrell J. Smith, Sand Coulee, Mont. 76.
1. Shay Keller, Rockglen, Sask. 10.6 seconds; 2. Cy Eames, Gooding, Idaho 10.9; 3. Seth Hall, Albuquerque, N.M. 13.0; 4. Bailey Young, Gillette, Wyo. 13.1.
1. Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, Texas 17.78 seconds; 2. Keira Simonson, Loring, Mont. 18.01; 3. Heather Crowley, Poplar, Mont. 18.03; 4. Brittney Barnett, Bakersfield, Calif. 18.18.
1. Brett Fitzpatrick, Polson, Mont. 75 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Rapid Fire; no other qualified rides.
** All results are unofficial.