On one of the hottest win streaks in recent memory, Clay Smith and Jake Long won the Wildfire XXI at Circle T Arena in Hamilton, Texas, with a time of 39.92 seconds on six head, worth $15,000 a man.
The 2018 PRCA World Champ Smith, who won all six holes at the Western Horseman Timed Event Challenge in Fort Worth just a few days earlier, and Long, the reigning Wildfire heeling champion behind Luke Brown in 2018, were third callback but blasted their short round steer in 5.46 seconds to also win the short-go fast time and another $1,250 a man.
“I don’t know that I have (ever been on a roll like this before),” Long said. “It’s been really good. Hopefully we can keep it going, keep roping like we’re supposed to.”
Smith and Long got by a tricky first round steer that Smith struggled to keep on his feet, but Long pulled off a shot to keep them in it.
“It seems like to win a roping like this, you have to get by one steer,” Smith said of his third Wildfire win. “We drew good steers, but that steer wanted to fall, but I probably didn’t do a good job but he heeled the fire out of him. After that, we drew good steers and heeled them as soon as possible every time. Everything fell into place and was just meant to be.”
For this win, and most of this hot streak, Smith was aboard his grey grade gelding Marty, who will be 12 in 2019 and came from Smith-family friend Marty Caudle. Long was riding Colonel, his coming-15-year-old reigning and three-time AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year from Dixon Flowers Rope Horses.
“We’ve all put in the work—I’d like to say that I’ve outworked everyone, but all of us at this level work hard at it,” Smith said. “So I can’t say it’s just work. I’ve been blessed with really good horses, an outstanding partner and we’re supposed to do good. Sometimes it don’t happen that way. But we’re really tapped off, and our horses are good I think, and I just hope we can keep doing the same thing.”
Long has a solid backup in his gelding Ironman, and another 6-year-old roan he bought from Trevor Kirchenschlager. He also has a 9-year-old gelding from Dixon Flowers Rope Horses named Super D that he’s working on trusting.
Smith is set in the head horse department, too, with the yellow gelding, Suntan, that his inlaws bought from Rhen Richard. Smith has a 5-year-old he’s confident in, too, and Ransom, the sorrel gelding he got from Lari Dee Guy and Trevor Brazile.
“We’d be silly to say that if something did happen to those horses, that in the back of our minds we wouldn’t be like, man,” Smith said. “They’ve been great. But we feel like if something happened, in our sport, we have to be prepared if they’re done we have to be able to carry on. I think we have enough horsepower to get us by.” TRJ
1. Smith and Long, 39.92 seconds on six head, $30,000
2. Casey Tew and Douglas Rich, 41.28 seconds on six head, $20,000
3. Coleman Proctor and Ryan Motes, 41.59 seconds on six head, $15,000
4. Marcus Theriot and Coleby Payne, 46.29 seconds on six head, $11,500
5. Nick Sartain and Austin Rogers, 46.87 seconds on six head, $9,750
6. Chace Thompson and Tyson Thompson, 49.58 seconds on six head, $8,000
7. JR Dees and Cody Cowden, 51.24 seconds on six head, $6,000
8. JB James and Brock Hanson, 52.36 seconds on six head, $5,000