Clay Smith and Jake Long began their new partnership on a high note with a win in Round 1 of the Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo with a 4.4-second run worth $2,034 each, counting toward the 2019 PRCA world standings.
Smith and Long were a full .9-of-a-second faster than the second-place team of Tyler Wade and Ryan Motes, whose 5.3-second run won them $1,525.
"We were second to last out," Long said. "The round was a little soft. Not everybody was being overly aggressive in the first round because the average is so important there. Neither one of us had intentions of going quite that fast. Clay did a great job and pinged the barrier and had it on him fast. I just heeled him—it wasn’t nothing special on my end. It was all set up by Clay."
Smith, who won the world title with Paul Eaves in 2018, rode his great, grey, grade phenom Marty, while Long rode his back-to-back-to-back PRCA/AQHA Heel Horse of the Year Colonel (Zans Colonel Shine).
"It felt good," Long, who roped with Luke Brown from 2016 to 2018, said. "We got to practice a few times together and feel like we’re getting a little rhythm together with our run. We’re going to be confident in each other. Clay is good at getting them legal fast, and I can be aggressive on my end.”
The Texas Circuit Finals, held in Waco, Texas, continue through Saturday night. The circuit champions and the average champions will earn a spot at the Kissimmee, Florida's Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo this March 21 through 24 in the Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park. Circuit Finals earnings count toward the PRCA world standings each year. TRJ
First Round Results:
1. Clay Smith/Jake Long, 4.4 seconds, $2,034 each; 2. Tyler Wade/Ryan Motes, 5.3, $1,525; 3. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 5.6, $1,017; 4. (tie) Tyler Waters/Dustin Davis and Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 5.8, $254 each.