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Air Time Wins Battle of World No. 1’s

By: Justin Felisko
August 21, 2016

Air Time's 46.25-point score Saturday night was his third highest of the season. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com

Air Time’s 46.25-point score Saturday night was his third highest of the season. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com

NASHVILLE – What happens when the world’s current No. 1 bull rider and the leading contender for the 2016 World Champion Bull title collide inside the arena?

Well, this time, Jared Allen’s Air Time made a mockery of Kaique Pacheco.

Air Time nearly tipped himself over with his spectacular athletic ability Saturday night in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round of the Frontier Communications Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires, against Pacheco while again tipping the scales in his favor in the World Championship Bull race.

Pacheco went into the matchup inside Bridgestone Arena calm and collected as he always does. Prior to sliding on top of the volatile Air Time, Pacheco sat across the chute on the metal grates and looked down at his bovine nemesis rocking back and forth in anticipation of the gate cracking opening.

In a way, it was a matchup between polar opposites. Pacheco – the 21-year-old quiet and stoic world leader against Air Time –the PBR’s volatile bucking time bomb.

And like so many other of the world’s top bull riders that have attempted Air Time in his career, such as two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney and 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi, Pacheco simply had no chance in his first attempt on Air Time.

Air Time sent the defending Music City Knockout event champion crashing to the ground in 2.54 seconds for a 46.25-point bull score.

“That is what I want,” stock contractor Matt Scharping said. “Here is the deal. I am a huge J.B. Mauney fan because J.B. says you are not the best bull rider if you are not riding the best bulls. Same difference. If I am not getting the best bull riders on him, it don’t make a damn difference. I want to buck off the best guys. If I can’t buck off the best guys. I don’t have the best bull.”

Saturday night Air Time proved he’s one of, if not the, bull to beat with the PBR stretch to the Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2-6 now underway.

Air Time is averaging a PBR-best 46.89 points in seven BFTS outs.

There are nine events remaining in the regular season.

Air Time’s out in Nashville was his third-highest bull score of the season. The 7-year-old bovine superstar has 16 buckoffs in 3 seconds or less in his 25 career BFTS outs.

“He got a little bit balled up in the start and he followed it up with a kick where he is Air Time,” Scharping said. “That is him where he damn near looks like he tips over and you are like, ‘How did he land that?’

“That is my spot. That is what I like to see.”

Scharping added that he was extremely pleased to see Air Time, who was 100 pounds lighter than he was prior to the summer BFTS break, still have his athletic prowess despite weighing less than usual.

PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said the out was another reason why he believes Air Time is the leading contender for the World Champion Bull title, specifically noting how impressive Air Time’s kick was Saturday night.

Lambert said he would have score Air Time 46.5 points.

“I thought Air Time was outstanding,” Lambert said. “I thought he was the highest-scoring bull on my scores. He had an extreme amount of kick. He kicked so high that he got straight up and down that he had to push off to keep from tipping over. It was already over, Kaique was coming off, but he was turning back as he did it, so I could see he was going to be really, really rank.”

Lambert added that it isn’t necessarily important for a World Champion Bull to be bucking off the top riders in the world standings or not. However, it is extremely beneficial when a bull is able to have one of those top riders get on him to showcase the bull’s best ability.

“Well, it is important for him to draw the best rider,” Lambert added. “Those are the guys that will show him better than the other guys will. Whether Kaique had ridden him tonight or got bucked off, or if Kaique was No. 4 or No. 1 in the standings, really doesn’t matter. Those top-end riders challenge him a little more than those other riders.”

Scharping was extremely pleased with Pacheco’s effort and approach to Air Time. Scharping is always nervous how riders will approach his sometimes chute-troubled bull during their first time getting on him in the chutes, but Pacheco was a consummate pro.

“Kaique did a good job,” Scharping said. “I was happy with what he did. I thought he did a good job. My main concern is my animal being alright, and I thought he did a good job. That was the first time Kaique was on him, but I liked him.”

Air Time is next scheduled to buck on Sept. 16-17 in Charlotte at the Charlotte Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires. It could possibly he the bull’s final regular-season out before the World Finals seeing as Air Time needs one more out to reach the eight-out minimum to earn one of the seven World Champion Bull qualifier spots.

Scharping is considering bringing Air Time to Nampa, Idaho, for the DeWalt Flexvolt Invitational, presented by Wrangler, on Oct. 7-8, but has not made a final decision.

“Day-to-day,” Schapring replied when asked. “I am going to manage him. I know I have to get some work done on him. I will decide. We will see how it goes. It would be about the right timing wise to get a break in there and go month-to-month.”

Pacheco doesn’t need another trip with Air Time to decide who he would consider to be the top bovine in the PBR.

“Air Time,” Pacheco said. “He is number one.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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