Clay Smith meant business when he rode into the box on Marty, the gray gelding on whom he’s already won two world titles but who had yet to make an appearance this year in the Thomas & Mack.
“It probably wouldn’t have mattered which horse I was on,” Smith admitted. “Me making a mistake earlier in the week, I kind of knew we was going to need to be a little faster, and I thought we could clock a little faster on Marty.”
Clock faster they did. Smith and his partner, three-time World Champion Jade Corkill, stopped the clock in their fastest run of the week in 3.7 seconds, worth $26,996.97 each.
“There’s a lot of good steers in here,” Smith said. “Every night, we had a steer me and Jade would talk about it, and we’d say we had a good steer. There hadn’t been one time we thought we had a bad one. Tonight, we knew this steer was maybe a little slower, and I knew he was hard to heel, but I’m not really concerned with that. All I have to do is turn them and he’s going to catch them.”
Smith threw from the mouth of the box, and Corkill made sure the run finished before Marty got too far into the left wall.
“I thought I was a little bit late from the start,” Corkill said. “I don’t know if my horse didn’t really hear the gate and I kind of took me a second to get going, so I kind of hit panic mode for a second. But then it ended up it kind of worked out better. When he had it on him so fast, that steer kind of checked up and I ended up getting there right at the right time. I could kind of tell by how he was checking off that he might not just hop perfect. I was just thinking [to] make sure I had both legs caught before I did anything else.”
Corkill rode Champ, the 16-year-old gelding registered as Sixes Posse, who came from Clay O’Brien Cooper.
“He’s probably the toughest horse I’ve ever had,” Corkill said. The week before I headed out here, he rolled in his pen or something, and he actually chipped a bone in his right front off of his sesamoid bone. Marty Tanner’s taking care of him every day so he keeps firing.
Their run topped another jam-up round of team roping on Hill Rodeo Cattle’s roper-friendly corrientes—a round that saw other world title contenders Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira win second with a 3.9 second run, worth $21,336.32 each. Round 8 teed up an epic battles of the titans in team roping’s recent history.
“I feel like in 2013 there were five or six teams that for sure had a legit shot at it, and it’s kind of the same way this time,” Corkill said. “We can’t do much about what those guys do. This is the fun part. On the last day, if you have a chance, that’s all you can ask for. Whatever happens, I’m good with it.”
Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins III lead the average on eight head with a time of 42.70 seconds. They’ve won $46,576.54 each at this year’s Finals and have $115,418.23 each won on the year. They have to average 8.1 seconds or faster on their next two runs to beat the average record held since 1994 by Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper at 59.1 seconds on 10 head.
“I’ve only done good in the average one time here, and I don’t really remember anyone but maybe Nick (Sartain) and Kollin (VonAhn) in 2009 having a chance,” Corkill said. “I’m going to say they do it.”
“If there’s a team that can do it, I’m going to say Andrew and Buddy,” Smith added. TRJ
1. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 3.7, $26,996.97 each
2. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 3.9, $21,336.32 each
3/4. Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp, 4.0, $13,716.20 each
3/4. Coy Rahlmann and Douglas Rich, 4.0, $13,716.20 each
5/6. Derrick Begay and Brady Minor, 4.1, $5,660.65 each
5/6. Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin, 4.1, $5,660.65 each
793 Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves 3.9 + 5
770 Quinn Kesler Joseph Harrison NT
760 Coy Rahlmann and Douglas Rich 4.0
766 Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins III 4.3
759 Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin 4.1
767 Derrick Begay and Brady Minor 4.1
775 Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler 5.4 + 5
764 Clint Summers and Ross Ashford 4.9 + 5 + 10
776 Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan 6.6
777 Tyler Wade and Trey Yates 3.9 + 5
762 Clay Tryan and Jake Long 4.6 + 5
774 Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp 4.0
771 Clay Smith and Jade Corkill 3.7
778 Erich Rogers and Paden Bray 4.4
763 Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira 3.9