Three-peat for Zeke

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Terri Hux­ley

Big Val­ley star Zeke Thurston claims his third top win for sad­dle bronc from the Cal­gary Stam­pede on Sun­day, July 16.

With an out­stand­ing score of 90 points on Timely De­liv­ery dur­ing the open­ing round on Sun­day, Zeke was able to rise above in the fi­nal four.

On his fi­nal ride of the day in the fi­nal four, Thurston rode the fa­mous Northcott Macza horse ‘Get Smart’, net­ting him the $100,000 win.

“Ev­ery jump I thought I was go­ing to get bucked off,” puffed Thurston, mo­ments af­ter his thrilling 92 point ride. “That horse bucks so hard. He’s prob­a­bly only 800 pounds, but that’s one of the strong­est horses I’ve ever been on.” A cow­boy is only as good as the horse un­der­neath him.

“Hon­estly, that horse could buck you off any day of the week. I was just lucky to stay on.”

Fol­low­ing the three-peat trend, this is not the first nor the last time Zeke and Get Smart have en­coun­tered each other. Iron­i­cally enough, the two horses and the Big Val­ley lo­cal worked to­gether to win the Ponoka Stam­pede two weeks ago and plan to see each other again next week­end.

Zeke’s cham­pi­onship score was just a half point higher than the 91.5 turned in by his friend Lay­ton Green on Wild Cherry mo­ments be­fore.

“That was pretty spe­cial to be rid­ing against your buddy that you’ve known since you were eight years old,” in­sisted Zeke. “We grew up rid­ing steers to­gether, came up through high school rodeo, learned to ride broncs to­gether, and now to be com­pet­ing against him at Cal­gary, it’s pretty cool. He made an awe­some ride. I knew I was go­ing to have to do some­thing to set my­self apart. Turns out I had the buck­ier horse, was all.”

Zeke, who just turned 23 on Satur­day, hasn’t thought too much yet about mak­ing his mark in his­tory as the first sad­dle bronc rider to notch three con­sec­u­tive wins with the $100,000 pay­days at­tached.

“That’s crazy to me. You know, a lot of guys will go their whole ca­reers and maybe never win this rodeo and to win it three years in a row, that’s un­be­liev­able,” Zeke ex­plained. Fam­ily, es­pe­cially Zeke’s mother Lynda, was be­yond proud to watch her own blood make his­tory.

“It feels pretty ex­cit­ing, it ac­tu­ally took a lit­tle longer this time to sink in I think,” Lynda laughed. “It was a pretty great round of bronc rid­ing. It was awe­some to watch four out­stand­ing horses and four good cow­boys and yeah, it was close but I’m re­ally proud of the ride that Zeke made. It was a heck of a ride.”

Thurston’s take­home from Stam­pede was $110,000, with the cash he won ear­lier in the week; while Green gets the $25,000 bonus to go with his ear­lier $13,000 take.

Tak­ing the third place bonus of $15,000 for a 90 point ride on Stam­pede War­rior was Taos Muncy. Ster­ling Craw­ley also re­ceived a $10,000 bonus for his 89 point ride on Magic Carpet in the Show­down round.

photo cour­tesy Mike Ride­wood

This year’s Cal­gary Stam­pede cham­pion Zeke Thurston of Big Val­ley shows off his $100,000 win­nings from the event on Sun­day, July 16.

photo cour­tesy Mike Cope­man Pho­tog­ra­phy

Zeke Thurston’s 92 point ride on ‘Get Smart’ dur­ing the Cal­gary Stam­pede rodeo fi­nals on Sun­day, July 16.

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