By Ted Harbin/for the Dodge City Roundup committee
DODGE CITY, Kan. – Matt Bright might just be on the hot streak of his career.
Bright, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Fort Worth, Texas, continued his positive momentum July 30 by riding Frontier Rodeo’s Showdown for 83 points to take the bareback riding lead at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.
“I’ve been pretty injury plagued the last couple years, and I’m finally feeling healthy,” said Bright, who earned more than $12,000 last week and moved to 28th in the world standings. “It’s amazing what being in good shape and being healthy can do for a guy’s riding. It has dang sure improved mine a lot, and things have been rolling really well here lately.”
He was one of 19 NFR qualifiers in Thursday’s second performance of the Roundup. Injuries have sidelined him enough the last two seasons, the Tennessee-born cowboy has been unable to return to Las Vegas for ProRodeo’s grand finale. He’s battling his way toward the magical top 15 in the world standings by the end of the regular season to secure his fourth trip to the Nevada desert in December.
He knew he had a shot on the Frontier horse.
“Dodge City is one of these rodeos where the horse is going to tell the difference,” said Bright, who finished second at both Cheyenne, Wyo., and Eagle, Colo., last week. “Everybody here is a great bareback rider. This is a (Wrangler Million Dollar) Tour rodeo, so you’re going to get the cream of the crop, and I knew (NFR qualifier) Austin Foss had some success on that horse earlier this year.”
In roughstock events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding – half the score on the 100-point scale is based on the animal; the rest is based on how well the cowboy rides.
“He had a great trip, and I managed to keep up with him,” he said of Showdown.
Though he has missed a number of big-money rodeos this year because of injury, Bright knows there are plenty of opportunities ahead of him with two months left in the 2015 campaign.
“I know everybody goes on and on about July being the month, but after Cheyenne, you get a lot of guys who are broke and a lot of guys who are injured,” he said. “With as many big rodeos that go on in the late summer and early fall and with a few guys that are out for whatever reason, it seems like it gets slightly easier to get checks.
“If a guy’s healthy and feeling good like I have been here lately, I think this is a good time to take advantage of it. I’m not beat up from going up and down the road. I’ve got a fresh jump, and I think it’s showing. I’ve been drawing real good horses, and I’ve been able to take advantage of it.”
First he needs to finish among the top 12 through the four preliminary performances in Dodge City in order to qualify for Sunday’s championship round. By leading with two nights left in the preliminary round, he sits in prime position to chase the coveted Roundup title.
He just needs that hot streak to continue a few more days to get it.