Off of Injury, Richmond Champion Sneaks Back Into NFR
Meet the NFR Athletes is presented by Montana Silversmiths
BY BRETT NIERENGARTEN @PRORODEOBRETT
Richmond Champion had a streak of seven straight NFR qualifications snapped in 2022 when he missed a bulk of the season with a neck injury.
In 2023, he got back to Las Vegas in the toughest NFR race he has ever been a part of, qualifying in the 15th and final spot, despite competing in only 14 rodeos before May as he got back in the swing of full-time rodeo.
After making the Finals in Denver and two rides of 83.5 points or more in Fort Worth, Champion may have officially declared himself “back” after RodeoHouston concluded on March 19. He placed on his first four rides, including second in the first Semifinal, before coming up short in the Championship Shootout.
Lea County PRCA Rodeo (New Mexico), $5,922
It was a rich one-header for Champion on Aug. 12 as he rode Uncapped of Pickett Pro Rodeo for 88.5 points. Champion was 1.5 points better than reigning World Champion Jess Pope.
Horse Heaven Roundup (Washington), $5,344
On Aug. 26, Champion matched up with his old friend Mary of Bridwell Pro Rodeo for 85 points in the Finals to seal a win in the Average by a half-point over World No. 1 Keenan Hayes, 167.5-167.
HIGHEST MARKED RIDES
Central Montana PRCA Rodeo, 87.5 Points
Champion rode Hot Water of Cervi Championship Rodeo to victory and matched up with the same horse the same weekend in Deadwood as well. He won the rodeo in Montana and it was part of late summer stretch he got a check on 13 straight horses.
Douglas County Fair and Rodeo (Colorado), 87.5 Points
Just 10 days after his win in Central Montana, as part of that same hot streak, Champion finished second at the PRCA Playoff Series Rodeo in Castle Rock, Colorado. Champion was ranked No. 20 in the PRCA World Standings on July 15 and a month later, he was No. 13.
PRCA Extreme Bares and Broncs (North Dakota), 87 Points
Champion got a big boost in March with over $5,000 for his win in Watford, North Dakota. He beat out Jacek Frost for the top spot by a half-point.
Rooftop Rodeo (Colorado), 85.5 Points
Champion got it done on Cervi Championship’s Hitman for his first win in Colorado since 2016.
Richland County Fair and Rodeo (Montana), 85.5 Points
The same weekend he won the Douglas County Fair, he continued to do damage in his home state. Champion won 10 rodeos overall this season and six of them came in Montana.
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