By: Justin Felisko
October 26, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Jared Allen doesn’t want Air Time to go down as one of the rankest bulls to never win a World Championship in PBR history.
Therefore, he and stock contractor Matt Scharping had been thinking about ways they could challenge their bull to be even better than he has been in his four-year career thus far.
The solution, so they hope, is the $25,000 “8 to Glory” bonus, which will be offered during Air Time’s two outs at the Built Ford Tough World Finals next week in Las Vegas.
Any rider that earns a qualified ride on Air Time will receive $25,000. If any rider is bucked off by Air Time and the 7-year-old bull is scored 46 points or higher, then the rider will earn $2,500.
Air Time is competing in Round 2 and the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, which are both random draws.
It is not like a rider can select Air Time in a draft, so what is the point?
“I don’t want anybody to ever ride Air Time,” Allen emphasized. “Am I curious to see what that is? Yeah, but I want him to be pushed to be the best. I don’t want him to be the best bull that never won anything. If he gets beat at his best, I have no problem with it. I don’t want to sit there and wonder.”
In its simplest terms, Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team wants riders to have an added sense of confidence attempting Air Time. They don’t want to see a rider get on Air Time, thinking they will not be able to make 8 seconds on their bull, and give up halfway through the ride.
Allen made it clear he doesn’t think riders are scared of Air Time. He just feels maybe they have become a little bit intimidated and are mentally defeated before they nod their head.
“I don’t believe any of these guys are scared,” Allen said. “I am never questioning any bull rider’s mettle. You go ride bulls for a living, you got a set bigger than most. It is human nature. It is that mindset of I am probably not going to ride him. Look at Bushwacker. Nobody thought anybody was going to ride him. J.B. (Mauney) came in with the mindset one day that said, ‘I am going to ride this S.O.B. and it is going to be amazing.’”
It is no secret that Air Time’s best outs came when a rider confidently challenges him.
Both of Air Time’s top two scores this season came against rider’s who genuinely believed they could ride Air Time.
Jess Lockwood got rocked by Air Time in 2.66 seconds at Last Cowboy Standing in May when Air Time tied his career-high with a 47.5-point bull score.
Joao Ricardo Vieira selected Air Time with the seventh pick of the championship-round draft two months earlier in Phoenix. Vieira had even offered a confident smirk before climbing aboard Air Time on the back of the bucking chutes.
Air Time was the one left laughing, though, as he made a mockery of Vieira in 2.24 seconds for a 47-point bull score.
The two outs were the highest bull scores in the PBR this season.
Air Time finished the regular season 8-0 and third in the World Championship Bull race qualifying race with an average bull score and career-high of 45.69 points per out.
However, he was marked a season-low 43.75 points in his final out against Stormy Wing (1.41 seconds) in Charlotte.
Air Time is on his way to Las Vegas today. He will have close to two months of rest since he last competed before bucking next Thursday.
“Matt has done everything he can do to get him ready,” Allen said. “He is mature. He is ready. I just want to win.”
Allen wants not just a World Championship, but also the PBR record for consecutive buckoffs on the Built Ford Tough Series.
“If you can ride him, we will pay you,” Allen said. “We believe that much in him that I am willing to put the money up for try trying to entice people to ride him. He is just that good. It comes off a little cocky. It is not supposed to be cocky. It is more in gest. It is friendly fun banter. It is a little rivalry as contractor with the riders.”
The more likely scenario is a rider receiving the $2,500.
Air Time (25-1, BFTS) has bucked off 23 consecutive riders since Renato Nunes rode him for 92.5 points in March 2014.
“What will that bull do at 6 seconds?” Allen posed. “We have seen it only once and it was pretty spectacular. I would say he is hands down a better bull than he was then.”
Air Time is one of nine World Champion Bull contenders competing next week in Las Vegas. He will be competing against SweetPro’s Bruiser, Pearl Harbor, Seven Dust, Crossfire, Cochise, Stone Sober, 2015 World Champion SweetPro’s Long John and Hey Jack.
“There are some bulls out there that are some real strong competition,” Allen said. “Long John is always up there. My goodness, Pearl Harbor is always a threat. The way it is set up. We all have a fair shot. It is an even playing field. It makes it exciting.
“Do I think Air Time is the best bull? Yes. But it is not supposed to be a slight to anybody.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said the $25,000 bonus is “meaningless” in regards to the World Championship race.
“Nobody is going to try harder to ride Air Time for an extra $25,000 then they already were for a $30,000 go-round win,” Lambert said. “Money wise. They are going to love it if they can do it, but nobody is going to try harder. It is a great thing for a bull rider. I like it because it is putting more money in a bull rider’s pocket that they can earn. It is not like they can figure out a way to screw the system and get that bounty. They just have to ride Air Time to get that money.”
Lambert also reiterated the bounty isn’t going to change which bull wins the World Championship whatsoever.
“As far as giving Air Time a better chance to win the World Championship? I say it gives him zero more of a chance. It is not going to change the judges’ scores, it is not going to change the amount of effort. If Air Time draws the wrong guy that won’t try him for $30,000, he is not going to try him for $55,000.”
Yes, Allen understands the bounty will help raise publicity for “8 to Glory,” which he is invested in, but an elusive World Championship is what Allen and Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team is truly after.
Air Time was in the driver’s seat last year following a 47.5-point bull score in Round 2 of the Finals before his 42.5-point score with Ryan Dirteater on the final day of competition cost him the championship.
“There is that angst,” Allen said. “There is nerves to be honest because I felt we had the best bull last year and he choked. I know what we see in him and what everybody else sees in him.”
He later concluded, “The World Championship would be the pinnacle of what we are trying to accomplish.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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