By: Slade Long August 29, 2014@ 08:00:00 AM
THACKERVILLE, Okla. — Thackerville is an outdoor event, which is rare at the Built Ford Tough Series level. The change of venue does affect some bulls. Some do better outdoors, even. Last year in Thackerville, we saw nine bulls turn in outs worth 45 points or more despite the summer heat.
For the riders, the weather is something of a factor. While it’s more comfortable for them to compete in an air conditioned building, every bull rider who competes at this level is intimately familiar with riding in the heat as well as the cold, the rain and the wind. According to the weather forecast, the rain and wind may well make an appearance, but the riders will adapt.
We’ll see a lot of the same bulls in Thackerville that we saw in Tulsa, but the pen won’t be quite as strong overall. Bushwacker won’t be there, nor will Chad Berger’s bulls. But don’t think that means the riders will have an easy time. Tulsa was one of the strongest events of the year for the bulls, and a slight drop from that won’t mean much.
The opening round in Thackerville will be an ABBI Classic competition, just as it was in Tulsa, while Round 2 will be full of bulls that PBR livestock director Cody Lambert is looking at as potential finals bulls. This time of year, the bull list for the finals is foremost in Lambert’s mind.
“I’m looking at bulls with a really open mind this time of year,” Lambert said. “I don’t want to go by what they did back in the spring. Unless they had a failure because they were weak hearted, or they got a chance to show they were a good finisher, it doesn’t matter how they were in the spring nearly as much as it matters how they are right now.”
The ABBI Classic in Tulsa was won by the D&H Cattle’s Margy Time, and he should be the favorite here as well.
“He’s strong,” Lambert said. “I think that next year he’ll be up there with Mick E. Mouse and Air Time, competing for World Champion Bull. He’s just a four year old now, and as good as he already is, I’m looking for him to be better next season.”
While we won’t see Bushwacker in the Thackerville short round, we will see the bull who bested him in Tulsa – Jared Allen’s Air Time.
“The last two times he’s gone up against Bushwacker he’s beaten him,” Lambert said. “He’s been the highest scored bull at his last two Built Ford Tough Series events. The last one was the Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas. He beat Bushwacker by a full point there and by a full point at Tulsa. Out of all the World Champion Bull contenders, he’s got to be the best feeling – to the riders. If we’re going to see the PBR’s high-marked ride record broken, this is a bull they could do it on.”
Shepherd Hills Tested wasn’t in Tulsa, but he returns to action in Thackerville. He’s one of the hardest working bulls in the PBR, logging more outs per year than Bushwacker and Asteroid, but he’s been their closest competitor over the last three years.
“He’s been to both the NFR and the PBR Finals three times already,” Lambert said. “He’s turned in 79 outs in that time, and he’s only been ridden three times, once by Kasey Hayes and twice by J.B. Mauney. So, I’d say a skinny left-handed rider stands the best chance at him. JW Harris gave him a good try away from his hand, but the move that got Harris will get just about anybody. Away from your hand you’ve got to do everything right and also have a little luck. He’s one of the hardest to ride bulls in the business.”
Mick E. Mouse, After Party, I’m a Gangster Too, and Wicked will also appear in the short go in Thackerville, along with other top bulls, and we’ll get a rare chance to see how well they all do outdoors in the elements.
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