Derrick Begay and Rich Skelton won the New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo in Albuquerque with a 4.0-second run in what would be their first and only rodeo appearance together.

Eight-time world champion Skelton roped with Jake Barnes most of 2018, and is finishing the year with tie-down world champ Caleb Smidt in an attempt to get enough won to make it into the big winter rodeos like the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo in 2019. As entries closed for Albuquerque earlier this month, Begay still hadn’t clinched his eighth WNFR-berth, so he needed to make the trip to the building rodeo. His regular partner, reigning world champ Cory Petska, already had the Finals made, so Begay and Skelton paired up, saving Smidt a trip to New Mexico.

“He had it on him fast, handled him good, and drug him into my loop,” Skelton said. “It worked out good for both of us.”

The win paid $4,487 a man, pushing Begay up to ninth in the world with $81,853 won and bumping Skelton to 44, within striking distance of the top 40, with $30,593.

Begay rode his ageless wonder Swagger, a likely Frosty Top-bred sorrel gelding on which he’s won most of his $1,093,672 in PRCA career earnings.

Skelton, on the other hand, is on a young gelding he calls Bay that he bought from Dustin Davis this winter, a horse that originally came from Rhen Richard (who is also mounting an attack on the all-around leader board if he can clinch a Finals birth in the tie-down and the heading).

“He’s in the top two or three I ever rode,” Skelton said of the horse. “He’s why I really want to rodeo. I’ve roped really good since I’ve gotten that horse. I feel really competitive.”

While Begay isn’t looking too far past the Thomas & Mack this December, Skelton is planning to start the 2019 season with former Resistol Rookie of the Year Nelson Wyatt. Wyatt is currently 30th among PRCA headers with $50,581.

New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo Results: 1. Derrick Begay/Rich Skelton, 4.0 seconds, $4,487 each; 2. (tie) Chris Francis/Cade Passig, Jake Cooper/Logan Medlin and Paul David Tierney/Tanner Braden, 4.2, $3,543 each; 5. (tie) Calvin Brevik/Kory Bramwell and Matt Sherwood/Cesar de la Cruz, 4.4, $2,362 each; 7. Brandon Gonzales/Carl Sweazea, 5.4, $1,653; 8. Clay Robertson/Timber Moore, 5.7, $1,181; 9. Joshuah Fish/Brian Sullivan, 6.0, $709; 10. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 8.9, $236.