LAS VEGAS – By Ted Harbin – The Nevada desert was a pretty good home for bareback rider Richmond Champion.
Over 10 days, Champion rode bucking horses to the tune of $108,140, pushing his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association season earnings to nearly $200,000. He placed six of the last seven go-rounds at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, including two round wins. He also finished second in the average, scoring a cumulative total of 814.5 points.
The biggest accolade, though, came in the form of a runner-up finish in the year-end standings, being crowned the reserve world champion bareback rider to the hottest man in the game, four-time reigning gold buckle winner Kaycee Field.
“It’s nuts,” said Champion, who earned $1.3 million this season riding bareback horses, all but $200,000 of which came from winning the title at a non-PRCA event, The American. “I was just sitting in the locker room trying to wrap my head around this whole deal. Everybody was congratulating me, but I couldn’t tell you what I did yesterday. This week’s gone by so fast.
“All of the sudden, you blink your eyes, and you’re here; blink your eyes again, and you’re leaving. I never would’ve imagined it would go like this.”
Only Feild earned more money than Champion among bareback riders. That’s quite a statement to the NFR rookie. He finished with a bang, too, riding Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Scarlet Fever for 85 points to finish in a three-way tie for third place in the 10th round.
“I think I had my ups and downs, but toward the end, I think I made up for it,” said Champion, of The Woodlands, Texas. “It wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit to make a drive over to Las Vegas again next year. I’m going to take a few days and re-access what I want to do, but obviously next year I’m going to go after that gold buckle. That’s my No. 1 goal.”
That’s a pretty good one to have. Champion came closer to catching Feild than anyone else, so his goals need to be pretty high.