Historic Day at WNFR

A month ago he won the Canadian tie-down roping title. A week ago his wife Shelby (a Canadian) won the World championship in the breakaway roping. And tonight the 2019 World Champion, Haven Meged, roped his calf in an incredible 6.4 to set the arena record for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“I don’t know if I can put this into words,” the 25 year old said. “It’s electric in here. It’s awesome. I knew I had a good calf. My horse has been phenomenal. He’s a six year old and this is the first time he’s ever been to a big building. He’s actually my wife’s horse and he’s been the biggest blessing.”

Meged was first out and continued to excel at a Finals that he has been dialed in at. The Montana cowboy has placed in six of seven rounds, sits first in the aggregate and second overall behind season leader and number one man Riley Webb who holds huge $67,000 lead. Canadian Beau Cooper continued to struggle at his first (but likely not his last) WNFR as he was 11.3 and out of the money.

Rookie Keenan Hayes came to Las Vegas with what looked like an uncatchable lead in the bareback riding world race. But he’s now looking over his shoulder as Clayton Biglow, the 2019 World Champion, who has been chipping away and has Hayes in his sights after winning round seven with an 88-point ride on 651 South Point Happy Hour from Beutler and Son Rodeo. While Hayes remains first in the standings and the average, Biglow has closed to within $53,000 of the leader and that sets the stage for the final three rounds of the WNFR. Canada’s Orin Larsen continues to have a tough NFR as he was 81.5 points and out of the money. And has been the case a few times this week, the 2019 Canadian Champion has taken a pounding both during and at the end of the ride. Three-time World Champion Tim O’Connell split second in the round with an 87 point ride on Big Stone Rodeo’s 313 Mayhem.

The steer wrestling is another event that is far from decided. Four-time champion Tyler Waguespack is trying to mount a charge at Canadian and World season leader Dalton Massey. Tonight “Wags” was 3.8 to split the round with Stan Branco while Massey was right behind at 3.9. With four rounds remaining the Oregonian Massey, who was at the 2023 CFR and finished third in Canada, sits at $264,000 with veteran Stan Branco second and Waguespack in third , both almost $30,000 in arrears. Canadian Stephen Culling placed in both rounds on this two-performance day, finishing sixth twice and making it four placings in seven rounds for the first time NFR qualifier. Both Massey and Culling are mounted on Tanner Milan’s Canadian and World Champion bull dogging horse EDS Famous Bar (Eddie).

The team ropers had a tough night as seven teams had no times on Wednesday night. There was a 1-3 split at the top of the leaderboard with Clint Summers/Jake Long, Derek Begay/Colter Todd and Clay Smith/Paden Bray taking home the big cheques. Summers and Long continue to lead the world standings but are only eighth in the aggregate and that could be a problem come Saturday night. Canadian Jeremy Buhler and his Utah partner Rhen Richard caught a leg and were 9.3, well out of the money.

The saddle bronc riding is another event that is not yet decided. The two men who present the biggest challenge to Canadian Zeke Thurston’s chase for a fourth world title, Kade Bruno and Sage Newman, both placed big in the round. Bruno split first with Ryder Wright who had the Calgary Stampede’s E-54 Exotic Warrior—each with an 87 point score. Newman was third in the round to keep his championship aspirations alive. None of the four Canadians in the field were able to place on this night, including Thurston, whose lead has shrunk to just $300.00 over Newman and $13,000 over Bruno heading into round eight (of ten). However, the four-time Canadian titleist has the advantage in the slot machine called the aggregate where he sits first, Bruno fourth and Newman seventh. Stay tuned. This one will likely be decided on Saturday night in the Thomas and Mack.

Barrel racer Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi topped the field in round seven with a rapid 13.47 on her Busby Quarter Horses-owned partner Jets Top Gun (or Benny as he’s more commonly known). Sired by Blazin Jetolena out of dam GL Famous First Lady (by the legendary Dash Ta Fame out of Lady Perks, the standout 2005 Canadian Champion Barrel Horse), Benny and Pozzi Tonozzi have been a force to be reckoned with throughout the 2023 season. Wins at Reno and the Calgary Stampede are only two of the multiple titles this pair have earned this year. With tonight’s round win and placings in all but one performance so far, along with a huge lead coming into this year’s WNFR, the two-time World Champion is in first place overall and leads the aggregate with only three performances to go. Along the way, the Lampasas, Texas cowgirl has established an All Time Seasons Earnings Record.

It’s a Hollywood story for sure. Australian bull rider Ky Hamilton who was carried out of the arena twenty-four hours earlier, then taken to hospital and released this morning was the only man to ride one in the eliminator pen in round seven. That ride was on Duane Kesler’s Championship Rodeo’s 731 Alberta Prime Devil’s Advocate and his 88 score netted the likable Aussie all the money–$99.053 to take his season earnings to $516,666 for an almost insurmountable lead in the event. Both Canadians, Jordan Hansen who picked up his first cheque in the earlier round today and Jared Parsonage who sits fifth in the aggregate were among the victims against a remarkably tough pen of bucking bulls.

The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta is the official sanctioning body for Professional Rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves 55 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.7 million. The organization oversees the SMS Equipment Pro Tour Finals each fall in Armstrong, BC, holds their premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB in early October and endorses the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals as part of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, SK in November. Follow the CPRA on Facebook and Instagram @prorodeocanadaofficial, on Twitter @prorodeocanada or online at

Courtesy of CPRA

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