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Ratliff returns to WCC winner’s circle
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REDDING, Calif. – Although bareback rider Winn Ratliff was off to a solid start in 2016, he seemed to be lacking consistency with his riding, until this past weekend.

Ratliff won the Wrangler Champions Challenge presented by Justin Boots with an 84.5-point ride on Growney Brothers Rodeo’s Wild N Blue – the high spot of a three-win weekend.

“I had never been on that horse,” said Ratliff, 27. “I’ve seen him several times, but I never had the opportunity to draw him. I felt very blessed for my name to be beside his. The horse was rider-friendly.”

The weather, mainly the rain-soaked Redding Rodeo Grounds, didn’t make things easier for Ratliff, but he wasn’t bothered by Mother Nature.

“It was just real sloppy out in the arena, but I can’t complain because it was raining on the bareback riders during the last perf of the Redding Rodeo (May 20),” Ratliff said. “I didn’t ruin my cowboy hat and I didn’t ruin my glove. I just got a mud patch on the side of my hip and my back. Other than that, I came out pretty clean.” 

Ratliff, who was competing for the B&W Trailer Hitches team, collected a $4,692 check for his performance. This was Ratliff’s third career WCC win, as he also took home titles in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Kennewick, Wash., in 2014.

“It feels good to be back in the Champions Challenge winner’s circle,” Ratliff said.

Actually, last week was a victory binge for Ratliff. The Leesville, La., cowboy also split first at the Redding Rodeo with Colin Adams, as they each had an 82.5-point ride. Ratliff’s ride came on Flying Diamond Rodeo’s Lucky Luke and won him $4,490. He also won the May 18-21 Santa Rosa Roundup in Vernon, Texas, with an 84-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Pretty Boy Floyd and garnered $1,055. For good measure, Ratliff had a second-place finish at the Ramona (Calif.) Rodeo and collected another $1,229.

“Going 3-for-3 is awesome,” Ratliff said. “This week has been a blessing for me. I’ve kind of changed some priorities in my life, and I’m trying to stay in the gym and be stronger in my faith. I just want to be a prayer warrior and have a stronger relationship with my Lord and Savior. I feel like I’ve been really blessed in return.”

Other winners at the $92,800 rodeo were steer wrestler Jason Thomas (5.0 seconds), team ropers Schmidt and Carroll (5.5 seconds), saddle bronc rider CoBurn Bradshaw (84.5 points on Growney Brothers Rodeo’s Cow Camp), tie-down roper Marcos Costa (8.7 seconds), barrel racer Kimmie Wall (17.87 seconds) and bull rider Parker Breding (86.5 points on Growney Brothers Rodeo’s Touchy Deal).

Aside from Ratliff’s big weekend, there were two other cowboys who won multiple rodeos. Melancon’s victory in Redding was his first of the weekend, and he followed Ratliff’s lead in also winning the Santa Rosa Roundup in Vernon, Texas. Melancon, a 22-year-old from Hull, Texas, moved up 22 spots to 25th in the May 23 WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings. Steer wrestler Shawn Downing was the only timed-event cowboy to earn two victories over the weekend. He won the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Hayward, Calif., with a 4.4-second run, and then was tops at the Ramona (Calif.) Rodeo with a 4.0-second time. 

The Wrangler Champions Challenge Finale presented by Justin Boots is set for Sept. 23 in Pasadena, Texas, at the Ross Kelly Arena. The event in Pasadena will be the ninth in the 2016 WCC series, and will crown the year-end team champions. 
 
 
 
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