Saddle Bronc Rider Zeke Thurston’s NFR Consistency End With Third World Title
BY BRETT NIERENGARTEN @PRORODEOBRETT
Zeke Thurston admitted after Round 10 of the NFR that he rides for Go-Round wins not the NFR Average, but riding all 10 in Las Vegas for just the second time in eight appearances was exactly what powered him to a third Gold Buckle.
Thurston ended up the Average champion for the first time in his career with 876.5 points on aggregate.
“I came off of a big win at the Canadian Finals, won the Average there and I just kind of rode that wave here,” Thurston said. “I knew if I just aced every horse I got on and rode them as good as I can, that at the end of the week, I’d give myself a chance.”
Thurston finished the season with a career-best $399,916 and ultimately won the World Title by more than $58,000 over Lefty Holman. That margin of victory, however, is not indicative of how close the saddle bronc riding was for 10 days at the NFR.
“It was really hard fought,” he said. “They made me work for it.”
Entering Round 10, Thurston, Stetson Wright, Lefty Holman and Logan Hay all had legitimate paths to the Gold Buckle. Despite being in the driver’s seat Saturday, Thurston was not going to deploy any strategy other than try to win the Go-Round. He ended up riding Andrews Rodeo’s All Or Nothing for 89.5 points and a share of the win.
“To be leading the Average coming in that’s kind of the cherry on top,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to win the Average.”