By: Kristian Limas
October 02, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. – Here are the three things learned after the first night of the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic at the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena.
Matt Triplett is back in business (10-1-16)
Matt Triplett had not been on Built Ford Tough Series dirt since Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and in Round 1 in Eugene, Oregon, he hit the dirt again. The difference this time, though, was that it was after an 86.75-point ride on Gatlin Gun, his first BFTS qualified ride since Duluth, Georgia, all the way back in March.
His ride was enough to win Round 1, and you could tell he was feeling it.
“It feels really good,” Triplett said. “It’s been a long hard year and I’m just ready to keep going at it.”
Triplett has been easing his way back into competition since recovering from reconstructive shoulder surgery, his second surgery in a five month span.
He started with a trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to compete at the PBR Monster Energy Canada Tour. He followed that up with a stop in Calgary before returning to the U.S. and winning the PBR AutoZone Challenge BlueDEF Tour event with a 3-for-3 performance.
Quite frankly, Triplett has been on a roll, and that didn’t stop Saturday night in Oregon.
“That’s my fourth bull in a row and that just feels really good,” Triplett said. “It’s been such a downer year for me and to be able to come back and maybe pull off a Cinderella story, I’m ready for it.”
With the 100 world points he picked up from the round win Triplett moved to 53rd in the world standings, just 235 points shy of cracking back into the Top 35. With his ride Saturday night he’s in prime position to make it into the Built Ford Tough Championship Round and walk away with even more points.
It’s certainly not out of the question, Triplett is a Top-5 quality bull rider when he’s healthy. He has ridden the last four bulls he’s seen and will be taking on Blue Rocket in Round 2.
So maybe, just maybe, the Cinderella glass slipper will fit him.
Kaique Pacheco continues to mow them down; Davis feels good in return
If Kaique Pacheco leaves Las Vegas with his first PBR World Championship a little less than a month from now, the fact that he won his first career 15/15 Bucking Battle Saturday night in Oregon will be a minor footnote in his illustrious 2016 season.
But it will certainly be a big contributor to any possible World Championship.
Pacheco got the job done after an 89-point ride on Dead Calm in what was yet another example of pure dominance from the young Brazilian, and if you ask him, he’ll just tell you it was another day at the office.
“I’m just very happy to cover my bulls today,” Pacheco said with help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “I know I need a good score to get my job done.”
And it was done, emphatically.
Pacheco also rode Cherry Bomb for 80.75 points in Round 1, which makes him six for his last 10. The 150 world points he earned for the win widened the gap between he and Cooper Davis, who returned to competition this weekend, to 750.33 points.
At this point, the World Championship could be Pacheco’s to lose, but he feels nothing but relaxed.
“I’m very relaxed and I enjoy what I’m doing,” Pacheco said. “I want to keep strong and go to Finals.”
Pacheco will face Copper Star in Round 2.
For his part, Davis bucked off both bulls he faced in Round 1. He missed the last two weeks of competition recovering from surgery to repair his broken right clavicle, and though the bone is technically not healed yet he hasn’t felt any adverse effects and got the all clear from Dr. Tandy Freeman.
“It won’t be healed until the Finals,” Davis said. “But the plate in there will hold it well enough so it won’t be moving around. It feels like nothing ever happened, honestly.”
Davis will face Crazy Days in Round 2.
The Kiwi Cowboy fights back
Fraser Babbington has been an alternate in the last few BFTS events, but his performance in Round 1 finally got him back into the Top 35.
Babbington covered Wilbur for 85.5 points in Round 1, good enough for fifth place in the round and 30 very crucial points toward the world standings.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it was just enough points to move Babbington to 34th in the world standings.
The Gisborne, New Zealand, bull rider has been fighting to be the first rider from New Zealand to qualify for the Built Ford Tough World finals, and his performance in Round 1 put him in position to bank more points with only four regular-season events left until Las Vegas.
Babbington didn’t do anything much different Saturday, but he’s made more of an effort to just drop the pressure and go back to having fun.
“I’ve been trying to keep the points and everything out of my head,” Babbington said. “Just have to clear my head and come here and have fun and just come to ride.”
Babbington will have a Round 2 matchup with Garbor’s Ghost.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman Brant Atwood suffered a bruised right flank after he was stepped on by Omaha. He is probable for Round 2.
Ben Jones, who returned to competition this weekend, sustained a lacerated forehead when he collided with Stray Cat in Round 1. The wound was sutured in the training room and he is probable for Round 2.
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