Tuf Cooper has had plenty of success during Cowboy Christmas over his career, and that didn’t change in 2021.
Cooper, a four-time world champion, earned $31,255 between June 30 and July 5, the most of any cowboy during Cowboy Christmas. Cooper edged team ropers Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves, who earned $30,464 each.
“That’s cool,” Cooper said about winning Cowboy Christmas. “This year I changed my strategy (for Cowboy Christmas). I didn’t enter all the rodeos. I went to six rodeos, and I could have gone to more, but you have to get a good schedule. I’m just kind of easing around with my new horse (Bro). I had a few days off and enjoyed some time in the mountains. I’ve rodeoed for so long and I never tried it this way, and I’m having fun and having success.”
Cooper – who earned three world titles in tie-down roping (2011-12, 2014) and one in all-around (2017) – just missed breaking the Cowboy Christmas timed-event record for one event of $32,293 set by tie-down roper Shane Hanchey in 2016. Cooper was the top timed-event Cowboy Christmas earner in 2014 ($26,082) and 2015 ($22,640).
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Trevor Brazile, Cooper’s brother-in-law, holds the record for most money earned during Cowboy Christmas at $39,993, which he set in 2011 while tie-down roping and team roping.
Cooper, 30, was plenty efficient during his recent Cowboy Christmas run, winning money at five of the six rodeos he attended. His Cowboy Christmas haul pushed him from second to first in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $108,501.
“I’m just taking things one rodeo at a time and trying to be the best roper I can be every day,” Cooper said. “I hope I get to tell you what it is like (to win a fifth gold buckle). That’s the goal.”
Cooper’s biggest payday came at the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede, where he clocked an 8.3-second run to win on the rodeo’s final day, the Fourth of July, to earn $10,671.
“My draws were good all week, that was probably the biggest thing,” Cooper said. “When I got in the box at Cody, 8.4 was winning it, and I just did exactly what I had to do, and it was cool to win it. A lot of my favorite rodeos were back this year, and I was just really happy to get to work on my craft at the biggest rodeos.”
Cooper added $8,037 from Oakley City, Utah, $7,950 from St. Paul, Ore., and $4,597 from Greeley, Colo.
Cooper rode Bro, 9, during Cowboy Christmas. Bro was owned by tie-down roper Cade Swor, a seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier (2004-06, 2014-17).
Cooper won Round 9 at the 2020 Wrangler NFR aboard Bro at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, with a 6.9-second time. Cooper bought Bro from Swor before RFD-TV’s The American in March at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
“Bro has been the difference in my season,” Cooper said. “I’m working as hard as I can and trying to grow, but that horse has made my job so much easier. Bro and I just fit perfectly. He complements my style, and he is unlike any horse I have had, just with his personality.”
Cooper also is leading the ProRodeo Tour Standings in tie-down roping with 4,816.83 points. The Decatur, Texas, cowboy is making a point to qualify for the ProRodeo Tour Finale at California Rodeo Salinas, Sept. 23-26.
“I definitely want to be in Salinas and compete for the money that will be up for grabs there,” Cooper said.
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