PHOENIX ― Fellow bull riders were universally amazed when asked to contemplate Guilherme Marchi’s recent achievement on Saturday nightwhen he became the first bull rider in PBR history to record 500 qualified rides at Built Ford Tough Series events in what has been a remarkable career.
Marchi’s best friend Robson Palermo simply said, “It’s amazing,” while L.J. Jenkins quantified his amazing remark by adding, “Especially getting on these rank of bulls week in and week out. I don’t even know if I’m half there and I’m about at the end of my career, so I figure if I would have stayed on another 200 head I would be right there where he is.”
Marchi has a career riding average of 59.55 percent at BFTS events and needed 277 career events to reach the latest milestone, which equates to an average of just under two qualified rides per event.
Or consider it would take an average of 50 qualified rides over a 10-year span to reach 500.
“That’s kind of unreal if you think about it,” said veteran Billy Robinson, who is just shy of 150 rides despite making his debut three years before Marchi came to the U.S. from Brazil. “At this level here, getting on these quality of bulls and being able to say you rode that many of them, that’s a big deal.
“You have guys who go weekends after weekends without making the whistle period. That’s a big deal here for anybody.”
Justin McBride, who won two world titles and cut short his career, in 2008, when he decided to retire in his prime, agreed with Robinson.
McBride noted that it’s tough to stay on the BFTS for 10 years, much less stay healthy enough to have an opportunity to ride 500 bulls. He also noted that a lot riders, especially World Champions, lose their fire and passion for competing every week.
In fact, he talked about Marchi losing his fire at times since winning the world title in 2008.
“That really shows how good he is,” McBride said, “to still be able to do that with having the highs and lows in a career. He’s a guy that you’ll see him struggle throughout the course of a season, but when the Finals is all said and done with he’s finished in the Top 5 and made a run at a World Championship again.”
“There’s no telling what that feels like,” said Jenkins, who joked, “I know I feel like I’ve been beat, battered and bruised on this tour. I don’t know how many bulls I’ve stayed on, but I know it’s nowhere near 500.”
Robinson said Marchi is certainly among the best ever.
He noted that in addition to winning a world title, he’s finished second four times and only once in the past nine years has he finished outside the Top 5.
Palermo said reaching 500 solidifies Marchi’s name alongside multiple gold buckle winners like Adriano Moraes, Chris Shivers and McBride.
Looking across other professional sports, Marchi’s 500 milestone is comparable to Major League Baseball wins by a pitcher – only Cy Young with 511 has recorded more than 500 wins – and career wins by a goalie in the National Hockey League—only two goalies, Martin Brodeur (682) and Patrick Roy (551), have been in the net for more than 500 wins.
For bull riding, only Mike Lee with 444 qualified rides has even surpassed 400, while J.B. Mauney is third on the all-time list with 387.
“It puts (Marchi) in uncharted territory,” McBride said. “It’s another first for the PBR. He’s the first to reach that milestone and, in my opinion, it’s a milestone that really means a lot. There are certain records that have to do with money that, I think, are going to change as the sport continues to grow, but then there are certain records that are evidence of how great your career was and, I think, riding 500 bulls in the PBR is one of those.”
In addition to being universally amazed, everyone also agrees this particular milestone illustrates durability, longevity and, more importantly, consistency.
Marco Eguchi called it a “great combination” of durability and consistency and, in addition to being happy for Marchi, said he can only hope and pray for a career that parallels the 31-year-old.
“His toughness because this game is really mental, and to stay on that many bulls you have to have the right mindset. That just tells you how great of a champion he is,” Jenkins said. “He took this tour on and he’s never let up since he got here.”
McBride added, “He’s had an amazing, amazing career and he’s not finished yet.”
“He’s been hot this year, he has his head straight, he has his family and everything straightened out and he looks good,” Palermo concluded. “I think it’ll be hard to beat him this year.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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