Clay Smith and Jade Corkill looked like their old selves in Round 5, making the fastest run of the rodeo in 3.6 seconds, after three frustrating rounds prior that saw them shut out with a no-time and two legs.
"Three horses so far for me," Corkill, 33, of Fallon, Nevada, said. "It wasn't really my horses that didn't feel good. For whatever reason—I can't really peg it—the timing was off and everything was weird."
But in Round 5, a great draw made the difference. They were sixth out, and Clay Tryan and Jake Long's 3.7 was already winning the round, followed by Cody Snow and Junior Nogueira's 4.0.
"When we went, the round was looking pretty tough," said Smith, 29, of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. "We knew we had to try to make a pretty good run. We just had a good enough steer to let us do it."
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"Clay got a really good start," three-time World Champ Corkill added. "We knew the steer from the other day—we ran him in the practice deal. He was really good then. He was even better tonight. He got such a good start, it felt like he kind of slowed up and felt like he had it on him extremely fast and I just caught."
Reigning and two-time World Champion Smith rode his grade, gray gelding, Marty—a horse so great, his performance needs no explanation.
Corkill opted for Huey, registered as JLC Royal American—an 11-year-old gelding he rode at the 2019 Finals.
"I was going to ride him the other night, but he was pretty sore acting, so I didn't. I just decided today he's going to have to deal with it later."
Besides changing horses and drawing a great steer, the team also switched up their routine. Today was the first time they've practiced all week.
"Maybe we'll practice again tomorrow," Corkill offered, laughing.
And for as great as Marty always is, Smith made a few practice runs to keep him right today, too.
"I run a couple on Marty just to make sure he wasn't going to duck at all," Smith said. "But, I mean, he's pretty smart, so he's going to feel different at home it seems like. I kinda almost need him a little bit tight. I mean, I don't need to tell him to turn off, which I don't normally have to. But I ran a few on him, and had some other horses we practice on, and got to run some steers, quite a few, today."
While plenty of headers have found the strange angle to the left bucking chutes a bit of a challenge so far in Globe Life Field, Smith hasn't had as much of an issue.
Listen to Clay Smith and Jade Corkill on The Score for an update from their Round 5 win HERE
"It's really not a problem for me because you have to reach a little bit, so I don't have that problem," Smith said, only half-kidding. "I was closer tonight that it might be. But if your steer stays pretty straight and you don't throw too many coils, it seems like you have just enough room. Jade heels them fast and gets them tight like that, I don't think it will be a big problem, unless you get a steer that sure-enough comes left. But it is kind of a funky corner right there. It seems like it's pretty close, especially if you have one stepping left and you have to take an extra swing to catch the feet."
Their win, worth 26,230.77 world championship points per man, puts them third in the world standings (up from sixth and fifth) with $116,934.32 each.
The round-win also shot them up from ninth to splitting sixth and seventh in the average, with a time of 27.00 seconds on four head. That's just 3.5 seconds out of the fifth-place average team of Luke Brown and Joseph Harrison, 6.8 seconds out of the fourth-place spot held by Levi Simpson and Shay Carroll, and 7.5 seconds out of third, held by Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins. Only two teams have five steers down: the first-place team of Erich Rogers and Paden Bray with a time of 40.10 seconds on five, and the second-place team of Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves at 41.60 on five.
"We just want to play the course," Corkill said. "We're going to hopefully move up in the average some, and just try to win whatever the steer lets us win and go as fast as we can without messing up and see how it turns out at the end." TRJ
Clay Tryan and Jake Long: 3.7 seconds
Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins: 4.1 seconds
Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves: 4.6 + 5 + 10 seconds
Colby Lovell and Paul Eaves: NT—Illegal head catch
Cody Snow and Junior Nogueira: 4.0 seconds
Clay Smith and Jade Corkill: 3.6 seconds
Luke Brown and Joseph Harrison: NT
Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan: 4.1 + 5 seconds
Kolton Schmidt and Hunter Koch: NT
Jeff Flenniken and Tyler Worley: NT
Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord: NT
Erich Rogers and Paden Bray: 5.0 seconds
Chad Masters and Wesley Thorp: 5.0 + 10 seconds
Charly Crawford and Logan Medlin: 6.3 seconds
Levi Simpson and Shay Carroll: 4.7 seconds