The Morning Line: Champions Challenge

The JW Hart PBR Challenge consists of three separate events this year, all going down on the same night. There’s a regular BlueDEF Velocity Tour bull riding with 40 entries, a Champions Challenge with nine riders facing off in a special round, and the Unfinished Business match featuring eight PBR riders coming out of retirement to compete.

In the Championship Challenge and the Unfinished Business matches, the riders chose their bulls. Most of the Champions Challenge guys chose pretty nice bulls. J.B. Mauney chose Stone Sober, but he’ll be getting on DaNutso instead because Stone Sober has a foot problem.

The prospect of a muddy arena changes some things for these guys. In the Champions Challenge, the guys who chose the easier bulls may be wishing they had chosen tougher ones, because the better bulls will be easier to ride in the mud, and the easier bulls are harder to win on as a result. The retired guys definitely aren’t used to getting mud in their underwear anymore, and that may actually make them ride better.

Champions Challenge:

Fabiano Vieira on 020 Kinda Crooked:

This bull doesn’t have a long history, and he has only been ridden once in seven career outs. Vieira most likely saw him in Hico, Texas, a couple of weeks ago when he bucked off Rubens Barbosa, and he obviously liked what he saw.

J.B. Mauney on 95X DaNutso:

Mauney originally picked Stone Sober in this round, but he’s out with a sore foot. DaNutso is an easier bull to ride, but he’s not nearly as easy as some of the other bulls in the round. In terms of performance, he’s not the guaranteed win Stone Sober would have been, especially in the mud. In a nutshell, Mauney had the rankest bull at this event, and he got replaced by a bull that’s a little easier, but has a lot less points potential.

Kaique Pacheco on 77X Funkytown:

This is a rematch for Pacheco. He had this bull at a Touring Pro in Denver back in January, and bucked off. Funkytown won’t be easy — he’s been ridden just once in 27 career outs.

Matt Triplett on 708 Delco: 

Triplett has been on Delco twice before, and turned in scores of 89 and 90.75 points. Triplett should be the favorite in this matchup, but in the mud he’s not likely to get as big a score out of Delco as he has in the past.

Mike Lee on 939 Crystal Can Do:

This bull hasn’t been around the PBR long. He spent about a year going to PRCA rodeos, and was unridden. He should get ridden pretty often in the PBR, and especially when the higher level riders have him. J.W. Harris was 88.5 points on him in Kansas City, Missouri, in February. Crystal Can Do is 5-0 against left-handed riders in his career, but he hasn’t faced a lot of top tier left-handed guys. Look for Lee to win this match.

Reese Cates on 177Y Earl Sports:

Cates won second in a round on Earl Sports in Sacramento, California, and he made a near- perfect ride going away from his hand. This bull goes to the left, but his bucking style really helps right-handed riders. He has a lot of kick, a little backup, and he doesn’t have any forward movement. He tends to help a guy get back to the correct position every jump.

Renato Nunes on 911 Dakota Style’s Hy Test:

Hy Test has plenty of experience at the Built Ford Tough Series level, and as long as he’s been around, left-handed riders have had their way with him. He’s 3-8 against lefties, and one of the eight is Nunes. He carried Nunes to an 87.5-point score in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2013.

Shane Proctor on B111 KISS Animalize:

This bull likes to go to the right, but he can go either way or both ways. No matter what he does, he’s very rider-friendly while doing it. He’s one of the highest point-producing bulls this season, and he’s given up seven qualified rides in 11 Built Ford Tough Series outs. Proctor is a heavy favorite here, but he’ll need this bull to have a great day to win the round.

Valdiron de Oliveira on 018 Ranga:

Oliveira rode Ranga for 86.75 points in Kansas City during the 2014 season, and it’s not surprising. This bull is nearly a perfect fit for Oliveira. He goes to the right, and really stretches out and makes big, deliberate jumps. Oliveira has made a ton of money in his career on bulls just like this. Look for this rematch to go Oliveira’s way again.

Follow Slade Long on Twitter @Probullstats

© 2015 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.