by Tracy Renck/for prorodeo.com | May 16, 2014
REDDING, Calif. – For most steer wrestlers, an eighth-place finish in the 2013 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings would have registered somewhere between satisfying and comprehensively thrilling.
For four-time World Champion Luke Branquinho, “It was kind of a disappointment.”
“Obviously, everybody who goes there (to the Wrangler NFR) has the goal to have a gold buckle at the end,” said Branquinho, a 12-time WNFR qualifier. “I think I’m probably more critical on myself than I’ve been in the past because I expect so much, but if a guy is too critical it can kind of hurt you in the long run.
“You have to go back and figure out what you (can) do better and not get down on yourself and make it work better for the next year.”
The Los Alamos, Calif., cowboy won gold buckles in 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2012 and had seven consecutive finishes in the top 5 of the world standings before last year.
This season, Branquinho has returned to top form – he was leading the May 12 world standings – and he showed why at the May 14-16 Redding (Calif.) Rodeo, a Wrangler Million Dollar Tour Silver event, presented by Justin Boots.
Branquinho won both rounds and the average with a time of 7.5 seconds at the Redding Rodeo Grounds to finish with a rodeo-best $5,514.
“The main thing was horsepower,” said Branquinho, 33, about his key to success in Redding. “The first (round) I rode Dakota Eldridge’s horse, Rusty, and I won a lot on him this winter. He scores great and gives you a good go and I did good on him. Rusty hit himself on Dakota’s second (run), so I got on Les Shepperson’s horse, Dillon, for my second (run) and I had a good steer there. Dillon is just a good ol’ campaigner. He lets you get the start and lets you win about anything.”
Eldridge said Rusty overreached during his second run and it left him sore on his left front leg.
“He stung himself, but he’s fine now,” Eldridge said.
Shepperson’s horse, Dillon’s Dash, was the 2012 AQHA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year – not a bad replacement at all.
Branquinho made a statement in Redding by not only winning the average, but also the first round (4.0 seconds) and second round (3.5).
“Horsepower just has so much to do with it, and I had steers that were just good and they let you go do your job on them,” Branquinho said.
Although there are plenty of rodeos remaining in the regular season, Branquinho is happy about where he’s at right now.
“My thought process is pretty good and I want to keep this momentum going,” Branquinho said. “There’s still a lot of rodeos left and I will not be quite to 30 (on his rodeo count) at Reno, and I will have another 40 to get to 70 after that. So, you just have to keep your head down and try and win as much as you can until the end of September.”
The Reno (Nev.) Rodeo is June 20-28.
Other winners at the $179,839 rodeo were bareback rider Austin Foss (84 points on Growney Brothers’ Capone), team ropers Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill (11.1 seconds on two head), saddle bronc riders Jesse Wright (81points on Flying Diamond Rodeo’s Fu Man Chu) and Dustin Flundra (81 points on Four Star Rodeo Company’s Radical Berry), tie-down roper Clint Robinson (17.1 seconds on two head), barrel racer Christy Loflin (17.37 seconds) and bull rider Brennon Eldred (92 points on Growney Brothers’ What A Ball).
Courtesy of PRCA