Cayley cowboy hitting his stride for Calgary
Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 11:08 am
A veteran Cayley cowboy is hoping to cure a craving at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth this week.
“You kind of crave the atmosphere at Calgary — it doesn’t matter if you are in the final four or not,” said Cayley bareback rider Matt Lait. “The atmosphere is always kind of intense.”
Lait is in Pool A of the Calgary Stampede, which means he will be up Friday to Monday.
He got the taste of being in the final four at the Calgary Stampede in his rookie year of pro rodeo in 2004. He was able to put a lot of cash in his Wranglers for a young up-and-coming cowboy.
“I got second-place and I was 21-years-old and I won $25,000,” Lait said.
“I was young and I really didn’t know what was going on — I was just happy to be alive.”
Lait is alive and well 10 years later. He goes into the Calgary Stampede as the reigning Canadian champion, coming from third place to win the title on the final ride at the National Finals Rodeo in Edmonton last November.
He will be up against plenty of champions at the Stampede. Three-time Canadian champion Kyle Bowers and three-time World and Stampede champion Will Lowe are in Pool A, while the three-time defending World champion Kaycee Feild is in Pool B.
“It’s not like a regular rodeo where you have everybody,” Lait said. “In Calgary, it’s the best in the world and you to try and match it.”
The Stampede uses a tournament format. Ten riders will compete in Pool A from July 4-7, with the top four athletes winning the most money advancing to the $100,000 Showdown Sunday on July 13. The same format will be used on Pool B from July 8-11 for 10 different riders.
Those who do not make it to the finals through their respective pools have a chance to qualify for the finals by finishing in the top two on Wildcard Saturday on July 12.
Lait likes the format.
“It’s not based on average. It’s based on money, so everyone is going out to win every day,” Lait said. “I think it makes for better competition.”
Lait is starting to hit his stride for the busy rodeo summer, which has riders putting on more clicks than a Greyhound bus driver.
He is sitting second in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association standings after top five finishes in Wainwright and Sundre on June 22.
“It’s a good time to get hot and get rolling,” Lait said. “This time of the year, you’re starting to get in rodeo shape…. You’re always striving to get better.”
Lait had four rodeos last week. He was in Ponoka, Williams Lake, B.C., Airdrie and Cody, Wyoming, before hitting Calgary this Friday.
Calgary will actually be a chance to rest. He’s got four days of, hopefully, working eight seconds a day.
“The nice thing about Calgary is you get a chance to stay and be with your family for a few days during the busy time of the year,” Lait said. “I will be bringing up my trailer and we will stay there.”
He won’t be the only foothills area competitor at the Stampede. Millarville bronc rider Sam Kelts is up in the saddle bronc in Pool A.
For information about the Stampede rodeo go to cs.calgarystampede.com/events/rodeo