Expect a tougher overall group of bulls this week, and a lower overall riding percentage for the riders.
Tonight’s opening round is an ABBI Classic bull competition, featuring up-and-coming 3-and-4-year-old bulls. We’ve seen a good many of these bulls a time or two, but at least one of them is a bona fide rising star. D&H Cattle Company’s Bruiser was ridden three times in 13 PBR outs last season, all three times for a round win.
However, most of the bulls out tonight are relatively unknown, because they were all three years of age or under last season. It takes a special bull to be able to buck well enough at age three to even be here, much less be really good at it. We’ve seen the riders at times get along well in the ABBI Classic rounds, and at other times not so much. In the opening round here in Oklahoma City last year they rode nine out of 35, which is notably below average. At Tulsa and Thackerville, Oklahoma, the riders did better — riding 12 or 13 bulls in the ABBI round, but in Springfield, Missouri, last fall they rode just 6 out of 35.
Round One Matchups
Brady Sims on 59Y Flyin’ Crazy:
This would be one of the bulls we know fairly well from last season. Renato Nunes was 89.5 points on him in Laughlin, Nevada, and Guilherme Marchi was 86 on him in the opening round of the World Finals. Interestingly enough, he went to the left with Nunes and to the right with Marchi. Sims probably knows this bull very well, because he knows the Pages very well. Sims is 4 for 9 so far this season, but three of the bulls he bucked off of cost him an awful lot of points. This is the kind of bull that he could earn some of those points back on.
Ben Jones on 872-1 Bert:
Bert hasn’t been to a Built Ford Tough Series event yet, and he hasn’t been ridden yet, but he was at the ABBI’s Lifetime Derby in Las Vegas during the World Finals, and he spun to the right, hanging in the air, and keeping his head high as he kicked. He’s a showy bull, and if he has the same trip here, Jones will handle him easily and make it look good.
J.B. Mauney on 136 Uncle Tink:
This is another debut bull that was at the Lifetime Derby, and Ryan McConnel was 88 points on him there. He went to the left with Ryan, and was just an outstanding draw. Mauney should do well here. To this point in the season, Mauney has drawn better bulls than just about anyone on tour, and although he’s ridden six of ten, he’s left a lot of points on the table. Chasing down a guy who rides every single bull is tough to do.
J.W. Harris on 32Y Bruiser:
This is without a doubt the matchup of the night. Bruiser is not only the best-known bull in this group and the highest-rated, he’s also the one the most of these riders hoped to have. He’s almost a guaranteed round win if you can stay with him. He was ridden three times last year for an average score of 91 points. Bruiser hasn’t given up a score to a right-handed rider yet, but most of the better riders he’s faced have been left handed. Harris rides very well away from his hand, and he’ll get a chance to show that here, because Bruiser is most certainly going to the left as soon as the gate opens.
Joao Ricardo Vieira on 1149 Pearl Harbor:
Pearl Harbor is one of the higher-rated bulls out tonight by the numbers. Matt Triplett rode him at the World Finals for 87.25 points, and he threw Marco Eguchi in Thackerville, Oklahoma, last August, putting up a 44.75 point bull score. This is a showy bull and the kind of bull that riders will likely get along with. Vieira has to be feeling great about his riding right now. His critics rarely miss a chance to mention that he’s struggled on bulls that spin away from his hand, but in New York he sent them a message by riding two very tough bulls that were both away from his hand.
Tanner Byrne on Y16 Brutus:
Brutus hasn’t really been on anyone’s radar, but he may be after tonight. He was the highest- marked bull at the ABBI Classic in McAlester, Oklahoma, just after the World Finals, beating Bruiser by half a point. He’s a little bit like Bruiser, but he is slower and stronger and spins to the right. He’s unridden in 10 career outs, but that too is likely to change. Byrne has ridden very well so far this season, but he hasn’t drawn very well. This is a quality bull that should spin into his hand and fit him very well. This is a great matchup.
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