Luke Branquinho didn’t just offer commentary on his neighbors while in Redding. In addition to picking up their winning checks, he also went to the pay window himself.
After throwing two steers in 8.9 seconds, the big Californian added $4,494 to his world standings as his assault on leader Cody Cassidy continued.
Cassidy jumped out to an early lead by winning the $50,000 RodeoHouston jackpot. But all that did was give the hunter Branquinho a target to shoot at.
The first-round steer shaped up ideally and Branquinho threw him in 4.4 seconds to place third in the round. The second-round steer, however, went anything but according to plan.
“My second steer they’d been 6.5 on and I’d seen him go one time,” he said. “Same deal, I didn’t want to break the barrier, I wanted to be a little behind it and still have a chance to win first. Well, right as I nodded, the steer turned his head just enough to make me move, which made my horse move and we floated through the box. Somehow I pulled enough to make it through without breaking the barrier. After I got him on the ground, I just knew I had run through the barrier.”
In fact, he was just one-tenth of a second slower than his first round steer. Being able to make a bad situation work out as well as a perfect one is what makes Branquinho a two-time world champion—not to mention a two-time Dodge National Circuit Finals winner.
In fact, when he claimed the top spot there earlier this year, he was riding a new 14-year-old horse named Spiderman that he bought from Les DeShamp in Canada.
“He’s great in the box, scores good and runs hard and gives you an opportunity to win no matter what kind of steer you’ve got,” Branquinho said.
Of course, he’s used to the good ones, riding Bryan Fields’ Jackpot, Rodney Burks’ Zan, Lee Graves’ Willy, Jesse Peterson’s Gunner and the Cassidys’ Willy during the course of his career. And 2010 is shaping up to be another solid year no matter what he rides.
“The year’s been good,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I didn’t take advantage of. It’s just like every year; it feels like a guy should have a lot more won than he does, in my opinion. Fortunately, it’s still been a good year, I wouldn’t say it’s one of my best years. Last year was a good year. I really can’t complain, I’ve had great starts and great finishes and that’s what I’m going to try to do this year and hopefully it means a gold buckle in the end.”