By Jolee Jordan
Calgary, Alberta Canada — As the final day of preliminary competition dawned at the 2016 Calgary Stampede, it was looking like you might want to be on a buckskin if you wanted to take home a cartload of money.
After Mary Burger and her gelding Mo swept all four rounds of Pool A, Pool B kicked off with another buckskin on top but this one was probably no surprise to the fans.
An Oakie with Cash, better known as Louie, and his jockey Lisa Lockhart left Calgary in 2015 with a great big fat check worth $116,500 as they shot to the lead of the WPRA World standings.
Lockhart wasted no time in her pursuit of a repeat title, winning the opening round of the 2016 edition of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth with a fast time of 17.61 seconds.
“I love Calgary and people have been saying about the excitement on Sunday, but it’s every day,” Lockhart told the Calgary Herald. “Just racing and the atmosphere around here, you just know that the stakes are so high and knowing that you’ve done well before, you have some big expectations, so you just go out and do what you can do every day, but I’m thrilled to have a win.”
Twenty WPRA ladies are invited to compete at the Stampede, divided evenly into two pools for tournament style action. Each pool competes in four full go rounds—no averages are kept or paid—with the four high money winners moving directly to Sunday’s Semi-Finals. The remaining six compete on Saturday, June 16 in the Wild Card Round.
The top two from the Wild Card Round join the eight pool qualifiers in the Semi-Finals. With another clean slate run, the ten compete again; the four fastest earn a spot in the Showdown Round, held later within the same performance.
With one final run for $100,000, the Showdown Round is truly one of the most exciting of the regular season. Half of the $100,000 first prize and all of the remaining money won counts for WPRA standings so the winner here is virtually assured a spot in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) in December in Las Vegas.
Arriving in Calgary a little lower than normal in the standings at 13th, Lockhart settled for a tie for second in round two as reigning Canadian Champion Nancy Csabay gave the hometown crowd something to cheer—a victory lap for one of their own. Hailing from Skiff, Alberta, Csabay is a veteran of the Stampede and won the round aboard her tough mare Wicked; her time of 17.56 seconds is the third best of this year’s event.
Prior to round three, the skies above Calgary opened up, leaving much wetter conditions for the competitors. Thanks to a huge effort by the Calgary committee, the arena was in decent shape for the third go and the result was another victory lap for Lockhart and Louie.
Fans of history will remember the conditions were very wet for the Showdown Round a year ago and Louie showed again that no conditions are a match for his talent and try. With the only sub-seventeen run of the day, Lockhart was assured a spot in the Semi-Finals.
With Csabay winning round two and placing third in round one and fifth in round two, her spot for Sunday looked solid as well.
After winning second in round one and tying for second in round two, Michele McLeod also appeared headed straight to Sunday, despite a tipped barrel which cost her a victory lap in round three.
With three spots nearly locked up, the race on Friday was for one position and several cowgirls had a shot at it. Jackie Ganter and Jet had placed every round, but still held just a $500 lead on her 2015 Rookie race rival Vickie Carter. With a second in round three, Deb Guelly still had a chance as well as Kimmie Wall.
The weather proved to be the ladies’ biggest advisory, dumping huge amounts of rain on the huge Calgary arena before the final round. With the arena looking more like a lake than site of some of the greatest rodeo action on the planet, several ladies opted for new mounts.
Cayla Melby switched to her mudder, Mighty Whitey, a seven year old Cremello gelding. As the first runner, Melby set a superb pace in the mud and standing water, posting a 18.18 second run.
Lockhart also made a horse change, breaking the streak of great buckskin horse performances in the 2016 Stampede. Giving Louie a day off, Lockhart stayed on top with eighteen year old Chisum, tying Melby for the victory lap with a matching time of 18.18 seconds.
Ganter’s Guys French Jet had to hold up the name of the buckskins on Friday, earning his fourth straight Stampede check with an 18.27 for fifth that was enough to send the pair to Sunday in the final spot.
Like Lockhart and Ganter, Csabay managed to go four-for-four, earning fourth on the final day of regular competition with an 18.24, just one one-hundredth behind Kimmie Wall and her own mudder, Foxy.
Lockhart won $20,000 to top Pool B while Csabay has already put $13,000 in her Wranglers, enough to shoot her up from 83rd in the WPRA World standings to inside the top 40. McLeod and her mare Disco won $8,500 during pool competition while Ganter took the fourth and final qualifying position with $8,000 won.
Wild Card Saturday will determine who will join Burger, Lockhart, Csabay, Ivy Conrado, McLeod, Kelley Schnaufer, Ganter, and Taylor Jacob in the Semi-Finals on Sunday.
Pool B Results
1. Lisa Lockhart, An Oakie with Cash, 17.61, $5,500
2. Michele McLeod, Streakinflingindisco, 17.73, $4,500
3. Nancy Csabay, Little Miss Wicked, 17.79, $3,500
4. Vickie Carter, Lil Pep of Gold, 17.84, $2,500
5. Jackie Ganter, Guys French Jet, 17.869, $1,500
1. Csabay, 17.56, $5,00
2. Lockhart, 17.69, $4,000
3. McLeod, 17.69, $4,000
4. Ganter, 17.76, $2,500
5. Kimmie Wall, TKW Bullys Famous Fox, $1,500
1. Lockhart, 17.95, $5,500
2. Deb Guelly, A Stylish Classic, 18.23, $4,500
3. Carter, 18.24, $3,500
4. Ganter, 18.31, $2,500
5. Csabay, 18.35, $1,500
1. Cayla Melby, Docs Frosty Blue Bar, 18.18, $5,000
2. Lockhart, Fast an Gold, 18.18, $5,000
3. Wall, 18.23, $3,500
4. Csabay, 18.24, $2,500
5. Ganter, 18.27, $1,500
1. Lockhart, $20,000
2. Csabay, $13,000
3. McLeod, $8,500
4. Ganter, $8,000
5. Carter, $6,000
6. Wall, $5,000
6. Melby, $5,000
8. Guelly, $4,500
Courtesy of WPRA