With 40 world championships between them, the seven rodeo experts selected by WH to handicap the 2006 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo know a thing or two about winning under the bright NFR lights. Some competed at Las Vegas' Thomas and Mack Center, others trace back to the event's early days in Oklahoma City, Dallas and Los Angeles. And two were already rodeo veterans (and champions) when the first NFR premiered in 1959.
Look high and low, a more qualified group of rodeo experts simply doesn't exist. That said, there's more than $5 million up for grabs Nov. 30-Dec. 9. From the top cowboy going in to the 15th-place guy who squeaked in by just a few pennies, everyone's got a shot to come out on top. It's happened before (guys jumping from last to first), and it'll happen again at some point. Will it happen this year?
A year ago, veteran rodeo announcers Bob Tallman and Boyd Polhamus called the all-around race before the NFR even began and handed the title to Trevor Brazile. The two wrote in WH, "We can envision only one scenario in which he can be beat, but it would involve Ryan Jarrett qualifying for the NFR in two events and clubbing Brazile in the knee. So we won't spend any more time on this one."
Rodeo fans know how that prediction turned out. Jarrett, wielding nothing more threatening than a standard calf rope, took down Brazile thanks to an incredible NFR run in tie-down roping and steer wrestling. And despite the tough lesson learned a year ago, it's probably safe to call the all-around race in 2006. Brazile, having shaken off his 2005 WH curse, sports a six-figure lead going into the NFR.
In the immortal words of Tallman and Polhamus, "So we won't spend any more time on this one."
For the rest of this story, see the November 2006 issue of Western Horseman.