Canada’s best bull riding talent, including 2010 Canadian Champion Jesse Torkelson, bucked the night away at Cominco Arena on Saturday but once again the silver spurs belonged to a familiar face.
Chad Besplug took home the Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama title for the fourth year in a row and while he says it was simply a matter of “luck” there was a hint of “four-shadowing.”
About 1,000 Trail rodeo fans enjoyed the event and as fireworks exploded during the opening ceremonies, cowboys entered the bullring amidst a thrilling pyrotechnic display. Besplug was recognized as the reigning three-time Bull-a-Rama champion and urged on to make it four.
But he was in good company and stiff competition as nine of the 10 top riders on the national circuit rode in the event.
However, after the long go round, where a group of 30 riders vied for a spot in the final eight, it was Besplug who finished first.
The Claresholm, Alta. native racked up 85 points atop Severn and Seven, a tough ride but one that four-time champ made look routine.
The top eight scores made it to the final round or “short go” but the bulls were particularly dominant on this night as only two of the final eight, Devon Mezei and Besplug, recorded scores by grinding out the eight seconds.
Each of the remaining finalists was dispatched almost immediately by the unmerciful behemoths; even talented rider Tyler Thompson failed to record a score after being shed like water off a bull’s back in a re-ride.
Mezei drew Cow Boss, a massive brown Brahma-cross that whirled right out of the gate then bucked and spun but could not shake the Stettler, Alta. cowboy as he put the pressure on Besplug with a tenacious ride.
The officials scored it an 88 for a combined total of 167.5.
But Besplug’s final go, on Nic Nac, was classic in its own right. The blond Brahma spun right, then left, bucking repeatedly as the four-time resilient rodeo champ held on and scored an impressive 89.5 points beating out Mezei with a combined score of 174.5.
“I got a bull that hasn’t been ridden very much, so it was definitely one of my better rides,” said Besplug.
Each ride is judged with 50 per cent on the bull’s performance and 50 on the riders so a good bull and a little luck goes a long way.
Besplug has won over $13,000 in the past four years he has competed in Trail and was obviously happy with his results and venue.
“It’s crazy, I don’t know what it is about this place but I draw good bulls and seem to stay on them here,” he said.
The individual pay outs from a $12,000 purse were not available by press time but valuable Canadian Pro Rodeo Association (CPRA) points will go towards his standings on the circuit and undoubtedly push him up the ranks.
In the junior steer riding category Ryley Claypool of Cranbrook took home the championship buckle for his ride.
Much of the cheering was for the sensational falls and near misses as well as successful riders, but also for the antics of Ricky-Ticki-Wanchuck and his clown-troupe and the courageous bullfighters.
But the success of the evening can only be measured by the number of people that support the event and according to organizer Guy Thompson the crowd continues to thin over the years.
“We had some of the best bulls and riders this year by far, but as far as next year goes, I haven’t even spoken those words yet.”
Given the caliber of the riders and the enthusiasm shown by the crowd, the city, local businesses and volunteers, the perennial organizer remains hopeful for 2012.