Clay Smith Looks to Restart Top 10 Finish Streak at Ninth Straight NFR Since 2015

Meet the NFR Athletes is presented by Montana Silversmiths

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Clay Smith notched wins with two different partners in 2023 and will be roping with a third, Paden Bray, at the NFR this year.

Smith is well-equipped for partner changes, though. Since 2015, he has qualified for nine NFRs including this season and Bray marks his fourth partner in that time.

Smith finished No. 14 a season, but from 2016-2021 he finished in the Top 10 every year and won two Gold Buckles along the way.

He will begin the NFR as the No. 11 header in the PRCA World Standings in 2023.


Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup (South Dakota), $10,000

Smith picked the right time for his fastest run of the year as he and partner Coleby Payne turned in a 3.6 to win Round 2 of the Governor’s Cup. The pair missed on their other two runs, but the won round win was worth a five-figure payday.

Puyallup Cinch Playoffs (Washington), $9,013

In the first leg of the Cinch Playoffs, Smith/Payne placed third in Round 1 and fourth in Round 2 before taking third in the Finals with a 9.1-second run.


Snake River Stampede (Idaho), 3.7 Seconds

Smith’s second-fastest run of the season was at another high-paying rodeo, this one resulted in a Finals victory in Nampa. Smith/Payne were sharp throughout, winning the Average with an aggregate time of 12.0 seconds on three. The pair also placed at the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo and Silver State Stampede (Nevada) to bring in a total of $15,916 between July 14 and July 22.

National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, 3.9 Seconds in Finals

Smith roped with Jake Long to start the year and the pair set themselves up well by winning the first PRCA Playoff Series Rodeo of the 2023 season in Denver back in January. All four of their runs were 5.4 seconds or faster.


Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo (Texas), 9.8 Seconds on Two

Before Denver, Smith/Long won in Odessa on Jan. 14, which paid more than $4,000. They won the rodeo by just two tenths of a second.

Killdeer Mountain Roundup (North Dakota), 4.0 Seconds

Smith/Payne picked up three checks of more than $3,000 over the Fourth of July and there lone win was in Killdeer where they beat out five other teams who were 4.5 seconds or faster to win $4,400.

Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo (Utah), 4.5 Seconds

The weekend after Killdeer, the pair stayed hot at the PRCA Playoff Series Rodeo in Vernal, banking nearly $4,000 for winning the one-header.

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