Oregon's Russell Cardoza, once crowned the World's Greatest Roper, will make his ninth trip to Guthrie, Okla., for the Cinch Timed Event Championship this year. He's known for his family-raised fancy horses, and he frequently mounts other competitors (including his regular-season header, Dustin Bird). Cardoza was in PRCA all-around contention in 2016, and will heel, rope calves and bull dog at the ProRodeos this year, too. He and Bird are the only full team competing against one another for the $100,000 Cinch Timed Event purse, and they'll be sure to catch all of the Jr. Ironman action each morning helping the young talent in the box and behind the chutes.
What keeps you coming back to the Cinch Timed Event Championships?
I’ve always roped calves and bull dogged and tripped, and I like doing them all. I’ve done pretty good but I’ve never won it. I really want to win it one of these years.
What horses will you bring this year?
I usually head and heel on Moe, my bay mare, but this year she's getting older so I'm not going to use her. I’m going to head on Hippie, a stud I have out of Moe (pictured above); rope calves on Black Betty, the horse I let Bird ride last year; heel on my good bay Tara; borrow a bull dogging horse; and ride my father-in-law’s tripping horse, Fred.
What's been your worst Timed Event blooper?
I think it was 2010 or 2011, I was heeling, and Charly was heading for me. I was doing pretty good, and I heeled the steer by two feet. I missed my wraps and my coils sucked around my left hand and almost pulled me off my horse. It pulled my reins off onto the ground, and she took off. I somehow reached down and got my reins and turned her around and got my dally. We were almost running into the wall. She'll do that if you lose your reins--One time I fell off her at Greeley (Colo.). She tripped as I went to throw and I lost my reins and she took off and I made a bull-dogging get off right there in the middle of the arena.
What's been your best Timed Event finish?
I won second there a few years ago and won a few rounds and won $32,000.
Who is your all-around hero?
Sam Willis, my father-in-law. He did five, shoot six, events. I’ve always thought of him as a great all-around hand.