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HEMPSTEAD, Texas â€“ Winn Ratliff won a share of the bareback riding championship at last yearâ€™s Waller County Fair and Rodeo.
Heâ€™d like to win it all this year. On Friday night during the rodeoâ€™s second performance, the Louisiana cowboy rode Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeoâ€™s Cimmaron for 86 points to take the lead. Heâ€™ll await Saturdayâ€™s final show to see how he finishes the weekend.
â€śMy first horse was a Pete Carr horse called Blue Smoke,â€ť said Ratliff, who will compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this coming December for the second time in three years. â€śEvery once in a while, heâ€™ll throw a little fit, and tonight he decided he didnâ€™t want to perform, so we decided to give him a break and give me a reride.
â€śI had some history with Cimmaron and knew him real well. Heâ€™s a real nice horse and just circled around to the left. Heâ€™s real showy, and I just tried to do my part by making a strong ride.â€ť
It worked. Ratliff may have been assisted by the 8 Second Bareback Shootout, a head-to-head match between Clint Cannon of Waller, Texas, and Richie Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, both of whom are NFR qualifiers. It was a historical special event for the Waller County rodeo. Though it wasnâ€™t part of the ProRodeo, it was a highlighted event in which both cowboys put on exceptional rides – Cannon won the match with a 90-point ride on Pete Carr’s River Blast, two points better than Champion’s ride on Carr’s Little Sister.
â€śIt definitely helps when you see two of the top guys make jam-up rides,â€ť said Ratliff of Leesville, La. â€śIt makes you want to show out. Iâ€™m thankful I could see that. It definitely got my riding juices flowing.â€ť
The 25-year-old cowboy finished the 2014 regular season ninth in the world standings, having earned $73,000. With this being the first week of the 2015 season, he was excited to get off to a good start.
â€śSeptember was a tough month because I wasnâ€™t drawing good and just wasnâ€™t riding good,â€ť Ratliff said. â€śToward the end and to now, my confidence has shot back really high. My yearâ€™s been a blessing; I just tried to keep my priorities in line and not take anything for granted, because weâ€™re never promised tomorrow.â€ť
He is in great shape to collect a nice payday in Hempstead.
â€śLast night I was at my hometown rodeo, and I kind of choked,â€ť he said. â€śI came over here and knew I needed to redeem myself.â€ť
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Winn Ratliff, 86 points on Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeoâ€™s Cimmaron; 2. Kyle Brennecke, 84; 3. Wyatt Denny, 82; 4. (tie) Will Lowe and Anthony Thomas, 79; 6. Bee Jay Scott, 78; 7. Kash Wilson, 77; 8. Ethan Assmann, 75.
Steer wrestling: 1. Darrell Petry, 4.0 seconds; 2. Bill Pace 4.4; 3. (tie) Aaron Vosler and Tommy Cook, 4.6; 5. Jarret New, 4.9; 3. Matt Cupp, 8.4; 6. (tie) Adam Strahan and Donelle Goodman, 5.9.
Team roping: 1. Lane Ivy/Tommy Zuniga, 5.0 seconds; 2. Kenton Woodson, 5.5; 3. (tie) Logan Olson/Travis Woodard, Tyler Waters/Kory Koontz, Jake Cooper, Tyler McKnight and David Key/Martin Lucero, 5.8; 7. Justin Davis/Colby Lovell, 5.9; 8. Nathan McWhorter/Cole Davison, 6.0.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 80 points on Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeoâ€™s Icycle; 2. Bradley Harter, 79; 3. (tie) Dean Wadsworth, Justin Caylor and Kobyn Williams, 78; 6. Isaac Diaz, 77.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Matt Shiozawa, 7.9 seconds; 2. Houston Hutto, 8.9; 3. Ross Tucker,9.0; 4. Ace Slone, 9.2; 5. Timber Moore, 9.3; 6. Marty Yates, 9.6.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Kelly Tovar, 14.52 seconds; 2. Amanda Davenport, 14.64; 3. Mary Walker, 14.75; 4. Sydni Blanchard, 14.82; 5. Lisa Thornton, 14.85; 6. Morgan Breaux, 14.89; 7. Brittany Grant, 14.90; 8. Christy Loflin, 14.91; 9. Taylor Jacob, 14.93; 10. Brittany Kelly, 15.02; 11. Kelly Allen, 15.05; 12. Tiffani Sonnier, 15.06.
Bull riding: 1. (tie) Zeb Lanham, on Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeoâ€™s Rainbow, and Chad German, on Lancaster & Pickett Pro Rodeoâ€™s Kubota, 85 points; 3. Jay Turner, 83; 4. Nile Lebaron, 81; 5. Toby Collins, 71; no other qualified rides.