Clay Smith – Broken Bow, Okla. ($150,512)
5-time WNFR qualifier
2019 World Champion
A year ago, Clay Smith missed his first steer at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. What could have dashed his hopes for a world title reminded him to treat the NFR like 10 separate rodeos.
He did just that, went on to place in seven of the rounds winning rounds two and five and leaving Las Vegas as the new world champion header. It was his fourth qualification for rodeo’s championships and each of those times had been with heeler Paul Eaves, who won the world in the heeling.
This year has been a year of transition for the man from Broken Bow, Oklahoma. He started roping with Jake Long. They won the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver in January and the RAM National Circuit Finals in March.
In May, Clay made a change and started roping with three-time world champion heeler, Jade Corkill. The winning continued. Clay will start this year’s NFR in first place with $150,512 earned during the regular season.
One thing that has been consistent for the world champion is horsepower. The bulk of his earnings and his gold buckle were earned aboard a non-registered gray gelding that is Clay calls Marty.
He bought the horse as a four-year-old from Marty Caudle and put his horse training skills to work. Clay knew the horse had talent, wanted to word and wanted to win.
“I’m not ever going to sell him,” Clay told the Team Roping Journal. “He’ll die at my place.”
The first time Clay won a roping he was five years old. His full name is Clay O’Brien Smith. He is named after Clay O’Brien Cooper who is a hero of his. He has a younger brother Jake named after Jake Barnes. The third of the siblings is Britt, for Britt Bockius.
That is a tradition that Clay and his wife, Taylor, are continuing. They had their first child in April of 2018. They named him Jade O’Brien Smith. So at this year’s NFR, Clay will have a Jade roping behind him and a Jade waiting for him to finish roping and be a dad.