“That’s the horse that got me to my first NFR in 2004,” Graves said. “I bought him in 2000. Gene knows horses. He called and said he had a nice horse, so we went to look at him and bought him. I kind of retired him a couple years ago. Last year, when my little horse died, I jumped around on a few horses. Midway through the year, I went and got him out of the pasture.”
“A lot of people have won money on him over the years. He’s good and broke, and he loves his job.”
Chump came through again over the last three days. Graves placed in both the first two go-rounds, then turned in a solid final-round run to win the average championship by one-tenth of a second over Riley Duvall of Checotah, Okla.
“I had a great year in the circuit, and I wanted to finish the year strong,” Graves said. “Duncan has been good to me as far as the circuit finals goes. I won the average last year. I would’ve liked to have bulldogged a little better, but I got by. This is a big deal to me.”
Graves is joined by the other average champions, including bareback riders Brian Leddy of Roll, Okla., and Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; team ropers Troy Boone of Mutual, Okla., in heading and Derrick Peterson of Louisburg, Kan., in heeling; saddle bronc rider Travis Sheets of Hyannis, Neb.; tie-down roper Caddo Lewallen of Morrison, Okla.; barrel racer June Holeman of Arcadia, Neb.; and bull rider Sam Wyatt of Fittstown, Okla.
They all qualify for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which takes place next April in Oklahoma City. They will be joined by the year-end champions: Riddle in bareback riding (by sharing the average championship, Leddy will join Riddle); Graves (year-end runner-up Kyle Irwin of Robertsdale, Ala., will go to the RNCFR); header Nick Sartain of Yukon, Okla.; heeler Reagan Ward of Edmond, Okla.; saddle bronc rider Joe Lufkin of Sallisaw, Okla.; tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla.; barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek of Aubrey, Texas; and bull rider Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla.