By: Slade Long
January 09, 2016
We should see a good many rides in the first round of the new season. Most of the guys should be fresh and they should be healthier than they were at the end of the World Finals last fall. This group of bulls is pretty rider-friendly as well. Just about every bull here in Chicago gives riders a chance. There won’t be many slam dunk artists out at this event. Individual matchups still matter, but this should be a good event for the riders.
Aaron Roy on 253 Rough ‘Em Up Tuck:
It’s hard not to root for Aaron Roy. He was seriously injured in Calgary in the summer of 2013, and was out of competition for well more than a year. Last year was his first full season back, and he qualified for the PBR World Finals and the PBR Canadian Finals. But, his numbers were down from what they were prior to the injury, and he’s probably looking to improve on that.
He has a great draw to kick off the season here. This bull is one of the easier-to-ride bulls on tour, and he’s got enough juice to produce good scores too. He’s not the best draw for a taller rider, and he’s atypical in that for the most part a rider never needs to get very far out over his front end. The best strategy for getting by Rough ‘em Up Tuck is to sit pretty and don’t do much of anything. He’ll try to get Roy off balance, tipped forward or to one side, but all in all this is a bull every guy here should be able to handle.
Douglas Duncan on 911 Dakota Style’s Hy Test:
This is one of the best draws in this round, and could potentially be a round winner for Duncan. The last two times Hy Test was ridden, it was for 89 points or more. There aren’t a lot of bulls here in Chicago that will be able to beat that, especially in this round. Hy Test goes to the left, and he has been weak against left-handed riders. Duncan has to be happy with this matchup, and it gives him a shot at starting the season with some points and a paycheck.
Derek Kolbaba on 00 Set ‘Em Up Joe:
Kolbaba is here because he won a BlueDEF tour event in Bakersfield, California, in November. He would like nothing more than anything to get a spot on tour, and he’s got a bull that could help him here. Set ‘Em Up Joe isn’t easy to ride, but he’s not that complicated either. He goes to the right, and he has been better to right-handed riders. He doesn’t kick a lot to help the rider stay forward, but if Kolbaba can stay up on his rope and avoid going out the back he can win this match.
Kaique Pacheco on 56 Barstool Mountain:
Pacheco is a legitimate threat to win a World Championship, but he’s a young guy. He’s got to beat a fully matured and more experienced J.B. Mauney over the course of a whole season, and that’s not going to be easy. Pacheco could make something of a statement ride here. This is one of the few bulls that threw Mauney off last fall. Barstool Mountain is a better fit for a right-handed rider, and Pacheco should be favored to make the whistle.
Cody Nance on 1275 Joe the Grinder:
Joe the Grinder is really the prototypical Built Ford Tough Series long round bull. He pretty much does the same thing every time, he’s good enough to punish any rider mistake, but he has great timing and gives every rider a chance. He does spin to the right, which will be away from Nance’s hand, but Nance usually doesn’t have a problem with bulls going away from his hand. Nance is one of the best riders on tour in terms of effort. He doesn’t often let one little mistake do him in. When he gets out of shape he will turn loose and try to jump back in the middle, and it often pays off for him.
Mike Lee on 103 Strong Heart:
Mike Lee isn’t just the most experienced rider here, he’s the most experienced rider in PBR history. 2016 will be his 15th year on tour, and in that time he’s been on 1,012 bulls at Built Ford Tough Series events. He leads Guilherme Marchi and Luke Snyder in that respect. He’s the only man with more than 1,000 attempts. He has 482 qualified rides at this level, and he is likely to become the second man to pass 500 career rides this season. You might assume he has been on a lot of these bulls before, and you would be right. He’s been on Strong Heart three times and rode him once. This is not a particularly easy bull, but he won’t surprise Lee in any way.
Tanner Byrne on 885 Soldier’s Pride:
Byrne finished in the Top 10 last season, and he’s likely to do it again this year. His riding percentage has been pretty solid since he came on tour in 2014. He’s got a good draw here, but he’s in the same situation as Aaron Roy. He’s got a bull that isn’t an ideal fit for taller guys. Tall guys have an advantage against bull that have a lot of up and down movement. This bull should have more lateral moves, and that puts tall riders at a disadvantage. That said, Byrne is pretty good at compensating for being tall. He might be the best in the world at it in fact. He’s got a shot to start the new season off with a score here.
J.B. Mauney on Y20 Wipeout:
We haven’t seen Wipeout at this level very often, but he’s a pretty straightforward bull. He goes to the left, he can be showy, he has decent timing, and he has little chance of getting Mauney on the ground. Mauney gets a lot of press and a lot of hype, but there’s a reason for that. He’s easily the most dominant guy right now. At this point in his career, he’s a lot like Justin McBride was at the end of his career. The most difficult thing about bull riding for him is dealing with all the attention and people trying to get inside his head. Just staying on the bull is the easy part. If this bull has his normal trip and throws Mauney off it will be a huge upset.
Gage Gay on 40 Preacher:
This is a relatively unknown bull. He has been to two events, faced two right-handed riders, and was ridden both times. J.W. Harris rode him for 86.25 points in Allentown, Pennsylvania, last fall. Gay should have the advantage here.
Bonner Bolton on 96 Redneck:
Thirty years ago, if you watched the top bull riders in the world the first thing you would notice is that they had a more diverse array of riding styles than they do today. Some successful riders looked a little weird, and some looked classy, but they got the job done either way. Bolton has one of the prettiest riding styles ever. He just looks good on every bull. He just needs a little more consistency to move up in the standings. He has one of the nicer-to-ride bulls out tonight, and really one of the easier bulls in the PBR right now. Redneck has been ridden in 60 percent of his career outs, and BFTS riders are 6-for-9 on him. He has rock- solid timing, and Bolton should handle him easily and look good doing it.
Follow Slade Long on Twitter @Probullstats
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.