Only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and Clay Smith winning team ropings.
This edition of the Clay Smith Show comes to you from Hamilton, Texas’ Gunslinger Open. He and Junior Nogueira stopped the clock five times in 29.33 seconds, worth $5,000 a man, just 12 hours after Smith won the Wildfire Open to the World with regular partner Jake Long for another $15,000 each.
Smith is now on a roll that’s consisted of winning all six holes at the Western Horseman Timed Event Challenge in Fort Worth, the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver and the Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo in Waco.
“I think it’s maturity,” Smith said of his unprecedented success. “I really think it is. I feel more satisfied in general than I’ve ever felt. My family, I’ve got a wife and a cool boy. I don’t pull into a roping anymore and say, ‘Hey how much is this roping going to pay?’ I mean I need the money, obviously all of us do, and every check is awesome. But when you go home, you’ve got a good healthy family and it don’t really matter how much you’ve won. It’s crazy to say—I’ve heard people say that for years, but now I realize you’re not worried about the roping as much. I’m just doing my job and I’m blessed with a great family, great horses and great partners. I rope with the best guys in the world. My job is pretty easy really.”
While most of Smith’s win streak has been on the back of 12-year-old Marty, he cracked out his up-and-coming great ones for the Gunslinger on the roping’s pen of strong, native heifers. He split the runs in Hamilton on Friday between Ransom, a Starlight Gypsy-bred 8-year-old gelding he bought from Lari Dee Guy as a 6-year-old, and Suntan, Smith’s in-law’s iconic Sun Frost 8-year-old palomino gelding Rhen Richard made famous in earlier in his career. Smith rode Suntan in the short round at high back with Nogueira to be 5.67.
“Suntan felt outstanding,” Smith said. “I’ve been trying to get some confidence on him because I’ve rode him some, and he’s an amazing horse. But until you get some wins under your belt—you know, today needed to be his day. He’s a phenomenal horse, I was just glad to get a boost of confidence on him.”
Nogueira also switched horses, opting for a buckskin gelding he calls Timon that he got from Kenny Brown.
“He’s a great horse,” Nogueira said. “He was green, he’s 8 now. But he is still a little bit green. He’s getting good. I used him a lot at our NFR practice. I make some fast runs. Kaleb rides him to help get him more consistent. He’s going to be really good. I’ll take him some this summer or else wait for next year. He’s cowy and smaller than GreenCard.”
Smith and Nogueira rarely rope, but the 2016 All-Around World Champ says his Gunslinger partner’s roll isn’t an accident.
“He’s amazing,” Nogueira said. “He’s amazing with his rope, and he’s amazing with how he rides. He’s got great horses, too.”