Past champ has Hay-day

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:45 PM ET

Neither rider would have picked his mount if given the option.

But both Rod Hay and Ben Morrow got the best of their beasts and earned another day of action at the Calgary Stampede.

Working for every tick of his eight-second ride aboard Gross Beetle, Hay earned $6,000 for sticking out an 83.5 on the Stampede saddle bronc stock.

He and Morrow -- who spurred out an 82.5 on Hundred Proof for a $5,000 payday -- will come back for Showdown Sunday as the wildcard winners.

"I think it's pretty obvious that horse is not easy to ride," Wildwood's Hay said of the 1,100-lb. bay mare he's seen in the Vegas and Edmonton eliminator pens.

"Realistically, I looked at that pen of horses and that was the one I wanted. He's the most proven. He's the buckiest son-of-a-gun.

"But they could run him right back in and I couldn't guarantee I'd get past him."

Neither could the Australian Morrow, who now calls Turner Valley home.

"I don't know whether it's one you would have picked, but there probably weren't many out today that you would have picked at a regular rodeo," Morrow said.

"He's just a lot of work. His head is on the ground, then he comes back up. He pulls on you, then you've got nothing, and he's jumping away from you when he's doing it."

Hundred Proof, the buckskin gelding, and Gross Beetle were similar in size and style yesterday.

Hay found himself right out of the saddle most of his eight seconds.

"You know when one's bucking hard like that when you get off and your legs are kind of jello," he said with a laugh. "That was her today.

"I was really tickled to have her drawn, but it's not like when you have one of them aces and you go, 'Boy, I'm gonna win something.' You're going, 'I might win something."

It paid off for both riders.

Morrow hadn't picked up a dime in his previous four days, but saved his best for the wildcard.

"It's cutting it a little bit close," Morrow said. "If I can win one tomorrow, it probably won't matter."

He'll have to be better than the veteran Hay, who has won the Stampede saddle bronc title four times.

"Tomorrow's the most exciting day in rodeo anywhere," Hay said. "If you want to test your heart rate, it's tomorrow."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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