LAS VEGAS – A month ago, Clay Elliott won the Canadian saddle bronc riding championship thanks to earning $42,978 at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, a six-round championship in Edmonton, Alberta.
He’s earned about that much in just four nights at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, $42,842. Throw in the $10,000 bonus paid for qualifying for the finale, and Elliott’s Vegas earnings are nearly $53,000.
“You know, that’s a pretty darn good feeling,” said Elliott, who grew up in Vernon but now lives in Nanton, Alberta. “I was in a pretty bad place (emotionally) for about four days; it was my first NFR, and buggering up like that, but to come back from that is so damn cool.”
The Canadian cowboy failed to place in any of the first four go-rounds. Since then, he’s earned four straight paychecks, with his biggest coming Thursday night when he rode Burch Rodeo’s Lunatic Fringe for 86 points to finish as the eight-round runner-up. That was worth $20,731.
What’s even better was that it was on Canada Night at the NFR.
“Everybody can be in good spirits and have fun when they’re winning, but when they’re not winning is where true champions show,” he said. “When they go from being down to coming back up, it is a very good experience. I’ve learned so much this week, and I can’t wait for several years to come.”
It didn’t hurt that he put on a strong spur ride on a great bucking horse with a grand history.
“I knew I had a good opportunity with the horse I had,” Elliott said of the horse. “I saw him go in the third round, I know I had to make a hell of a spur ride.”
He did, and it paid off well. More importantly, it provides him with more momentum and confidence heading into the final two nights of the season.
“You don’t know what success is until you’ve failed,” he said. “I still have two rounds left, and I can win another $50,000 if I want to, so I’m sure looking forward to it.”