By: Justin Felisko August 14, 2014@ 10:00:00 AM
PUEBLO, Colo. – With one day remaining until the Built Ford Tough Series resumes in Tulsa, Oklahoma, PBR.com continues its look at the Top 5 riders in the world standings before the stretch run to the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals officially begins.
Today we look at 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi, who will begin the second half as the No. 1 rider in the world.
FIRST HALF RECAP: Marchi spent 11 weeks as the top bull rider in the world, including nine consecutive weeks after he reclaimed the first spot in the world standings from Mike Lee. He finished the first half with 33 rides and a riding average of 53.53 percent. No ride was bigger than his historic 84 points aboard Pandora’s Pyxis in Phoenix, which was his 500th career ride on the BFTS. Marchi was the first man to reach the milestone and will begin the second half with 513 successful 8-second trips. The Leme, Brazil, bull rider leads the BFTS with 11 Top-10 finishes, while also notching six Top-5 finishes. Six years after winning his first world title, Marchi remains one of the more consistent riders on the BFTS and is on pace for his ninth Top-5 finish in the world standings in the past 10 years – he finished seventh in the world in 2010.
He capped off the 2014 first half by winning Last Cowboy Standing for the first time in his career to regain the lead in the world standings and enter the summer break on top.
Marchi also won the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Colorado Springs, Colorado, by making 8 seconds aboard Wicked for 89.5 points on May 3.
If he were to win the World Championship this October at World Finals, Marchi would become the fifth rider in the past eight years to lead the world standings on June 1 and win the title. The last rider to do so was Renato Nunes in 2010. Marchi accomplished the feat in 2008.
BEST FIRST HALF PERFORMANCE: The right-handed rider saved his best for last when he concluded the 18-event first half by going 2-for-4 to win Last Cowboy Standing and $115,900. After bucking off Kujo in 3.69 seconds in Round 1, Marchi was drawn back into the progressive elimination event and rode two of his final three bulls. He rode Past Time for 87.75 points to advance to the third round before bucking off Bushwacker in 3.88 seconds. However, the other four riders all bucked off as well, granting Marchi another chance. Marchi took advantage of a second opportunity and rode Rango for 89.5 points to clinch the $100,000 event title.
FIRST HALF TOP RIDE: 90.5 points on Palm Springs in Sacramento, California.
SUMMER OF REST: Marchi was the least active this summer among the Top 5 riders in the world standings after choosing to rest his injured right PCL he hurt while being bucked off by Kujo in 3.69 seconds at Last Cowboy Standing. He sat out the entire summer, minus one 90.5-point ride on Carro Chefe at the Silvano Alves Invitational on June 27.
FINISHING WHAT HE STARTED: This may very well be Marchi’s last, if not greatest, chance to win a second world title and become only the fifth rider to win multiple championships.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray and two-time world title winner Justin McBride described Marchi as a “physical specimen” and “physical beast” when referring to the 11-year BFTS veteran.
Murray admits he is a big fan of the 5-foot-10-inch, 180-pound bull rider, whose attitude, approach and toughness is “great.”
“He needs to keep doing what he is doing,” Murray said. “He is in great shape and working hard at staying in great shape. I am a big fan of him and I have a lot of respect for him – not only as a rider, but as a person. He has been the best. If you look at the last 11 years, I would say he has been as good as anybody. I don’t think there has been anybody any better over that period of time if you average it out.”
McBride believes that Father Time and Marchi’s struggles riding away from his hand – something Murray also pointed out – will be his biggest obstacles to overcome in the second half.
“He is not what he used to be. He is just not and that’s just it,” McBride said. “Father Time is his worst enemy right now. I do feel like this is probably his last chance. I don’t know if he can get himself in this good a position again. He is going to need some help because he doesn’t ride really good away from his hand anymore. Not that he can’t, I think it is a complete mental thing with him, but he is going to have to do it this year to get two.”
Murray echoed McBride’s sentiments, “I know that he can ride bulls that can go to the left every bit as good as he can when they go to the right, but he has a huge mental block there and that is something I hope he is working on.”
Marchi may be in his 30s with 847 BFTS outs under his belt, but with that wear and tear comes experience – which, of course, is a valuable asset.
J.W. Hart believes Marchi’s experience from his 2008 World Championship run, as well his other years in contention, will prove to be beneficial during the final 2014 events. For Hart, the key for Marchi will be remaining healthy.
“He is a guy that has won a world title and knows what it takes,” Hart said. “Nothing is going to surprise him down the stretch; all of it will be nothing he has seen before. If he can stay healthy, I think he is the guy to beat.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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