Defending Canadian team roping titlists Dawson and Dillon Graham can tell you all about riding the rodeo roller coaster. What the Wainwright, Alberta brothers have already learned in their young careers is not to let the sport’s inevitable rocks in the road that are just part of it out on the rodeo trail get them down. They finished out of the money on opening night at the 2023 Canadian Finals Rodeo up in Red Deer. But the Graham boys rallied to win Round 2 in 3.9 last night.
“This is our fourth year here, so we feel pretty at home,” said Dawson, who just finished 19th in the world on the heading side. “You know you’re not out of it if you have some bad luck. It’s six rounds, and you can make a lot happen in the last five.”
So far so good on that. And riding the Canadian Head and Heel Horses of the Year, Outlaw and Cruz, the Graham boys are armed and dangerous heading into the final four rounds.
“We had a great year,” said Dillon, who was just one out of his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification with a 16th-place finish on the 2023 season. “We roped well, and had a lot of confidence coming into Red Deer. We came in with a game plan, and we’re going to stick to it.”
In the early going of CFR 2023, Dawson’s hot on the heels of heading leader Tee McLeod in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association team roping title race, and Dillon leads the heeling pack. When Saskatchewan ropers McLeod and Brady Chappell took Round 1 in 4.3, McLeod also took the lead in the CPRA all-around standings. CFR action resumes with Round 3 tonight in Red Deer.