(Editor's note: PRCA release)
COLORADO SPRINGS - You know you're having a pretty solid career when, at any given regular-season rodeo, you draw a good rough stock animal and say: "Oh yeah, I remember him. Rode him at the National Finals Rodeo."
Such was the case Sunday for Hillsdale, Wyoming, saddle bronc rider Brody Cress at Battle of the Best in Coarsegold, Calif. Saddle bronc contestants were divided into six groups of four, and the winner of each group advanced to a six-man short go.
The win helped Cress climb to No. 3 in the 2022 PRCA World Standings. Melstone's Sage Newman is No. 1 among world saddle bronc riders.
Cress managed to advance despite only a 78.5-point ride on Four Star Rodeo's Dakota Star.
"He's a young one, a promising one, but he's still pretty hit-and-miss," Cress said. "Luckily, it was a rough bunch of horses for all six of us, so my score was enough."
Better still, Cress got a much better draw for the short go: Bar T Rodeo's Hell Boy.
"That's one of their best horses. I actually got on him at the 2020 NFR," Cress recalled.
Actually, he did more than just get on him. Cress scored an 88.5 in Round 7 of the 2020 Wrangler NFR, taking second and pocketing almost $21,000.
So, Cress was certainly eager to get back in the saddle on Hell Boy at the Battle of the Best.
"He's a horse that always has good trips. I just knew he was a really good chance, especially in a six-man short round," Cress said. "Having a horse like that is dang-sure promising on paper."
But there's the on-paper part, and then there's the actually riding part.
"I knew I just needed to stay focused and I'd have a chance to win it," Cress said, noting it wasn't quite like his 2020 NFR ride. "He had a little bit different trip. He came around a bit at the end, a little bit heavier. But I was able to finish strong and have it go well."
In fact, Cress matched his 2020 score on Hell Boy with 88.5-point trip to get the win and keep a good early season going. Cress is already beyond $60,000 in Wrangler NFR-qualifying earnings, sitting fourth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings. He's reached five straight NFRs and won three NFR average titles, including in 2021.
Cress is looking to keep the pace as the summer rolls around.
"I've been truly blessed to draw some good horses at rodeos with a lot of good payouts," said Cress, who hails from Hillsdale, Wyo., but now lives in Weatherford, Texas. "I'm just worrying about the stuff I can control, and let the rest take care of itself. It's been a good year so far. Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling."