It’s a star-studded battle between brother-in-laws at Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Tuf Cooper, competing in 2012 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, captured the 2017 world all-around title at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Tuf Cooper, competing in 2012 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, captured the 2017 world all-around title at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Star-Telegram archives

It is a battle between in-laws at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

More specifically, it’s a battle between two men who are brother-in-laws. They are defending world all-around champion Tuf Cooper and Trevor Brazile ,who has a record 23 world titles on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit.

The two men have a brother-in-law family relationship because Brazile is married to Cooper’s sister, Shada Brazile, who qualified for the 2013 National Finals in barrel racing.

Cooper, who has residences in Weatherford and Decatur, entered the Dec. 6-15 National Finals ranked No.1 in the 2018 world all-around title race with $239,857. Brazile, entered the 60th annual WNFR ranked No. 2 with $234,154. Both Cooper and Brazile have qualified for the WNFR in tie-down roping.

The all-around title is traditionally is the sport’s most coveted award. Since the National Finals Rodeo’s humble beginnings in 1959 at Dallas’ Fair Park Coliseum, the all-around title has been snared by iconic cowboys like Jim Shoulders, Larry Mahan, Tom Ferguson, Ty Murray, and Brazile, who has earned it a record 13 times.

In order to clinch the all-around title, a competitor must earn a noticeable amount of prize money in more than one event on the PRCA circuit. Cooper also is a world class competitor in steer roping. Brazile is a world class team roper and steer roper.

Cooper and Brazile have a very friendly rivalry. The two men practice regularly roping together and sometimes travel together.

Cooper, 28, said he has great respect for Brazile, a 42-year-old cowboy.

“It’s an honor to be in a race with the King of the Cowboys, my brother—in-law, the best cowboy ever to get on a horse and compete,” Cooper said. “We both want to win it and we both want to bring the title back home to the family every year.”

Cooper, who won his first all-around title last year, said Brazile has had tremendous influence on him.

“Any time I get to spend with him, it rubs off on me,” Cooper said of Brazile. “He’s a great leader, a great role model, a great mentor and I’m very blessed to have him in my life. Just being around greatness has rubbed off on me.”

Brazile said he and Cooper are a good influence on each other.

“Every practice session we’ve had has been together the past two months,” Brazile said. “We rope together and so at the end of the day, iron sharpens iron. It’s been said 1,000 times, but it’s true, especially when it comes to our family, we make each other better.”

Cooper is the son of eight-time world champion Roy Cooper and a grandson of Clifton Smith who qualified for the National Finals in 1960 and 1962. He’s also a nephew of Stran Smith who clinched the PRCA’s tie-down roping world title in 2008.

Brazile is the son of former National Finals Steer Roping qualifier Jimmy Brazile.

Trevor Brazile announced on prorodeo.com last week that will enter into semiretirement from pro rodeo and mainly will compete in the larger rodeos that’s close to his home such as the Fort Worth Stock Show and the RFD-TVs The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Brazile said a much lighter rodeo schedule will allow him to spend more time with his family. He and Shada Brazile have three children (son Treston, 11, and daughters, Style, 8, and Swayi, 3).

Cutting horse update

At the National Cutting Horse Association World Championship Futurity in Fort Worth, defending open division champion rider Austin Shepard, an Alabama cowboy, advanced to the open division finals, which is scheduled for Sunday at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. Shepard made the cut as the result of turning in an attention grabbing score of 2018 aboard a horse named Bama Jelly.

For Shepard, cutting is a family affair. His father, Sam, has been a prize winning trainer/rider at the world’s top cutting horse aged events. His son, Cade, clinched the non-pro title at the 2018 Futurity with a score of 222 aboard a horse named Chexy Louella.