This contest is really more about these riders than it is the bulls. Most of the bulls here are pretty nice, rider-friendly, and are bulls these guys would have had zero problems with in their primes. They are the kind of bulls you win money on if you are a bull rider.
These riders vary in age, in how long they’ve been retired from bull riding, and probably in the degree to which they are motivated to win this thing. There are five guys out of these eight who wear a World Champion’s buckle, and two of those guys have more than one. For most of them, this is going to be a fun event, but all of them have one thing in common. They wish they had the brain they have now and their 20-year-old body back. There’s a saying: “Youth is wasted on the young.” This applies to bull riding as much as anything. Young riders tend to arrive on the scene in awe of their surroundings. All of a sudden they are competing against guys they admire, and against bulls that almost have mythical status, and this state of mind doesn’t contribute to success. These guys have been there, done that and aren’t in awe of it anymore. The mental game is far easier for them. On the other hand, they aren’t made of rubber anymore. The youngest of these guys are in close to fighting shape, and the healing effects of not getting on bulls for several years probably has them feeling as good as they ever have, but aging is a terrible injustice. If you don’t believe me, wait until you are 50 and try to do a cartwheel. Make sure you have insurance.
All in all, this is a huge treat for bull riding fans, and it will be great fun for the guys riding, even if they won’t feel very spry tomorrow.
Chris Shivers on 1113 Black Cat:
Shivers was actually good enough to compete in the PBR at age 16, but he had to wait until he was 18 to make it legal. He has an incredible amount of natural talent, and he parlayed that into two PBR World Championships. He last rode in 2012, so he’s not as far removed from active competition as some of the other guys. This bull doesn’t have any PBR history, but Mike White owns him, so he’s been scouted.
Cody Custer on 102 Buster:
We don’t know too much about this bull. He has been ridden both times he appeared at the BFTS level, but he did throw Mauney off in Denver back in January. Custer won the world in the PRCA in 1992. He’s 49 years old now, and he’s in good shape, but his cartilage is probably slowly turning into concrete just like everyone else. He’s been retired since 1993, but he hasn’t strayed far from the arena. He has a son that is riding now, and he still works as the chute boss at many BFTS events.
Justin McBride on 94X Oyster Creek:
McBride is the youngest man entered in this event. He retired in 2008 with two PBR World Championships to his credit. He really retired at the peak of his ability to ride bulls. Someday when we know as much about the physics of riding bulls as we do about the physics of hitting baseballs, I believe McBride will be remembered as the best rider in the history of the sport. He just didn’t have a weakness in his game, and he was the most complete rider we’ve seen who spent most of his career going against very good bulls. The bull he has here is very straightforward, has no tricks, and has excellent timing. As you might expect, he gets ridden a lot, and I expect McBride will handle him easily.
JW Hart on 965 King Buck:
Hart’s last appearance on the Built Ford Tough Series was in 2007, which I believe was before the draft became a regular thing. So, when he got a chance to pick his own bull here, he made the most of it. King Buck is the biggest round point producing bull this season, so he’s a quality bull, but he’s also a sucker for right handed riders. He’s 2-10 against them.
Michael Gaffney on 740 RMEF Team Elk:
Gaffney is one of the most naturally talented bull riders to ever play the game. He was the PBR World Champion in 1997. In his prime, Gaffney had a lot of natural balance, and made bulls look easy. This bull will be into his hand, and tends to get easier as the ride goes on. Gaffney retired in 2004, and his last ride in the PBR was a 93.75-point effort on Little Yellow Jacket. He’s not going to eclipse that here, but he’s got a reasonable chance of making the whistle.
Mike White on R287-01 Closing Time:
This is really a standout matchup in this round. White is part owner of this bull, and Closing Time is one of the better bulls in this contest. White won the PRCA title in 1999, and he spent the next decade trying to add a PBR title to it. He spent a lot of time either out with injuries, or riding with injuries, particularly late in his career. Early in his career he seldom bucked off. The time away from competition has probably benefitted him by letting him fully heal up, which is hard to do when you are trying to make a living riding bulls. He’s got a shot to win this deal, and he has a bull he’s very familiar with.
Ross Coleman on 935 Gigolo Beau:
Coleman reached for a bull that carried Mauney to a 90.5-point score and an event win in Hico, Texas, just a couple of weeks ago. Gigolo Beau is the highest-scoring bull in this round, but he may not be the most difficult. Coleman retired in 2011, so like Shivers, he hasn’t been out of the game for as long as some of the other guys. Coleman never won a World Championship, but he had several years in his career where his numbers were plenty good enough had it been a different year.
Tater Porter on 115 Moose Juice:
This bull has no history that we know of, but you can bet he’s here for a reason. The most likely reason is that Porter saw him and thought he could probably ride him. Porter retired in 2007, so he has been out of action for nearly 10 years, and he’s 44 years of age now. In his time, Porter wasn’t a World Champion, but he did win the World Finals in 2000. Porter was one of the most tenacious riders in PBR history. When he was at his best, bulls just couldn’t get him into a position he couldn’t recover from, and he rode a lot of difficult bulls that gave everyone else trouble because of it.
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