‘Cream of the crop’: Prince Albert bull bucks off champion rider in Saskatoon

Zane Lambert riding Evil Genius at the Canada Championship finals in Saskatoon Saturday. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

Alberta’s Zane Lambert added a shiny new buckle to his belt on Saturday, after winning Professional Bull Riders’ Canada Championship.

He racked up big point totals on two bulls at Saskatoon’s Sasktel Centre, the site of the tour’s final round. But there was one animal he couldn’t conquer: Evil Genius, a bull raised by Prince Albert’s own Flying Four Bucking Bulls.

Lambert said Prince Albert is producing some fine bovine athletes. Over two nights of finals, Evil Genius was just one of eight bulls competing from the Flying Four ranch.

“They’re cood cowboys,” Lambert said. “They know a good bucking bull and how to raise ‘em. It’s pretty neat to see guys with passion raising these good bucking bulls and keeping this sport going.”

The new champion said he had trouble staying on the same rhythm as Evil Genius, who seemed to go down exactly as Lambert tried to go forward.

“He’s tricky,” Lambert said. “I hope to get on him again and figure him out.”

The Byrne family runs the Flying Four ranch. Tanner Byrne, who also competes as a professional bull rider, was at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday taking care of the family jewels.

He said it was an “honour” to see Evil Genius selected as the final bull to go bucking on Saturday night.

“He’s our cream of the crop, he’s our best,” Byrne said. “That’s why he’s in the championship round, the last bull out.”

He called Evil Genius a “showy” bull with “a lot of kick.” That’s part of what the Byrne family looks for when breeding their champion bulls. Byrne said the best bulls combine a few key “attributes”: a powerful kick, dizzying spin and a whole lot of intensity.

“A bull that has all the attributes is one that really blows in the air, really kicks out,” he said. “You’ll see his hind legs way over the top of his head, as high as the panels, and he’ll be spinning fast. You’ll know when you see the good ones. You’ll think, whoa, that’s an athlete.”

Evil Genius certainly fits that bill. And another Flying Four bull seemed to bring exactly the same gusto to the arena on Saturday. Finning Milky Chance is only four years old, and was competing in his first full season this year.

“He’s just kind of getting going in the (Professional Bull Riders) world, under these big bright lights and the loud music,” Byrne said.

Milky Chance bucked off his rider well before the eight seconds were up. But he wasn’t nearly done bucking. He chased three bullfighters and a rodeo clown for what must have felt like an eternity more – out there on the dirt – until a cowboy corralled him back toward his pen.

Byrne seemed to relish that show of enthusiasm.

“As you can see from his bucking, he got stronger and stronger and stronger as he went,” he said. “He was having a heyday out there. He decided to do a little dance and show everyone he was in town to buck.”

BYRNE PLANS RETURN TO COMPETITION

Professional Bull Riders’ Global Cup is coming to Edmonton next month, and Byrne expects to see some of his bulls bucking the best riders in the world. They won’t be the only Prince Albert athletes in competition. After a stint on the sidelines, Byrne plans to join them…

For more on this story, see the Thursday, October 26 print or e-edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.

Country Comfort – March