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Cowboy Christmas Offers Riders Plenty of Opportunities

By: Neal Reid June 30, 2014@ 05:00:00 PM

Plenty of cash will be up for grabs at TPD events across the nation this July. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

PUEBLO, Colo. – Whether it’s a guy needing a big break or a bull rider looking to stay sharp, the PBR’s month of July has something for everyone.

Even though the Built Ford Tough Series is taking a hiatus until mid-August, that doesn’t mean there’s not a heap of cash out there up for grabs. With 24 different Touring Pro Division events and a pair of BlueDef Velocity Tour competitions on the docket – including this coming weekend’s Velocity Tour event in Carson, California – a bull rider can experience Cowboy Christmas if things go well.

For PBR rookie Brady Sims, his month will be jam-packed with bull ridings as he looks to climb up the standings. The Holt, Missouri, cowboy is in a battle with Gage Gay and Tanner Byrne for PBR Rookie of the Year honors, so he won’t be taking it easy with so much money on the table.

“I feel like I’m going pretty steady in July,” said Sims, who is ranked 22nd in the world standings and has earned $42,112 so far in 2014. “It shouldn’t kill me off, but it should be all right.”

Traditionalists have considered Cowboy Christmas to be only the week of July Fourth, others have said it’s anywhere from 10 days to the entire month.

Bull riders from across the country can take advantage of the expansive July schedule, which includes TPD events in 13 states from coast to coast. Whether it’s California and Oregon or Alabama and Florida, PBR cowboys can find a bull riding almost anywhere.

A big July could mean the difference between a rider qualifying for the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas or staying home in October. Sims – who will begin his month in St. Paul, Oregon, Pendleton, Oregon, Rock Springs, Texas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado – knows just how important July can be.

“There’s probably one (event) a day or even more than one a day,” he said. “I think it’s great, and Christmas in July is a fun concept. You can move from being nobody in the standings to breaking the Top 50.

“Even if you’re not in the Top 100, you can have a real good summer run and, if you place in the Top-3 in every one you go to, I guarantee you’ll crack that Top 50. It gives you good opportunities to go get points and get money to go be in the bigger ones to get bigger points there.”

A monster July could not only be the difference between big riches and qualifying for the World Finals, but even having a chance to challenge for the sport’s ultimate prize.

“It can be the difference between the guy who wins the world title,” Sims said. “If you win a whole bunch of money in July, you’re doing it right. I haven’t added it up, but I think if I was to win every one I’m going to, it would be about $75,000.”

July will be slightly different for eight-year pro Harve Stewart, ranked No. 27 in the world standings. For him, it’s a chance to hit a few TPD events to stay sharp, while also defending his ranking in the standings.

“I’m just going to hit a few every weekend to stay tuned up,” said Stewart, who has earned $40,422 so far this season. “It’s nice just being able to stay fresh and not getting worn out. But I’m still getting on bulls and competing, that way I’m not getting behind in the standings.”

July can be an answered prayer for riders who struggled during the first half of the season or who were bitten by the injury bug that forced to watch from home.

“This is the time to turn it on and make your run if you’re going for the Finals, because this is the best opportunity to get all the points and all the money,” said Stewart, who has ridden 30 percent of his bulls this season. “It’s the time of year when a guy can make up the most ground, and this month there’s probably more going on than any other month the rest of the year.”

The month has something for PBR riders in just about any situation.

“If a guy wants to just go to a couple every weekend, he can do that, and if he wants to go all out and hit three or four a week, he can,” Stewart said. “You can take it however you want.”

For Sims, who is covering 34 percent of his bulls this season, there’s no question about how hard he’ll hit the road in July.

“You can’t not go over the summer, because if you do that, you’re leaving yourself open for a whole bunch of people passing you,” Sims said. “You have to go a lot, which is fine with me, because I like traveling and I like winning money.”

Follow Neal Reid on Twitter @NealReid21

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