PUEBLO, Colo. – A trio of riders inside the Top 15 of the world standings are planning on returning to the Built Ford Tough Series this coming weekend in Nampa, Idaho.
No. 2 Matt Triplett (torn MCL), No. 7 Reese Cates (torn biceps) and No. 15 Cody Nance (pelvis sprain) have all confirmed to the PBR competition department that they expect to participate in Round 1, as well as the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night during the DeWALT Guaranteed Tough Invitational.
However, Triplett is still awaiting confirmation from Dr. Tandy Freeman about whether or not he should attempt to ride inside at the Ford Idaho Center.
“I’m going to see Tandy tomorrow (Thursday) morning,” Triplett said. “As of now, I’m getting on. I’m going to see what he has to say though first.”
Triplett heads into Nampa five points behind world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira after losing his eight-week grip atop the world standings.
If he is able to ride, Triplett will face Boot Jack (13-1, BFTS) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. Boot Jack has bucked off all eight of his opponents this year with an average bull score of 44.5 points.
This weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle can be seen on CBS network television on Sunday at noon ET.
Cates says his arm is feeling real good and he “is ready to ride” after missing the Seattle Invitational because of his torn biceps in his riding arm (right) during the Ty Murray Invitational following a partial tear in the practice pen a few days earlier.
The 26-year-old has spent the last two weeks going to physical therapy and will continue rehabbing until he leaves for Nampa on Friday.
“They’ve got me on a variety of different workouts and stretches and I have been going every day, or as much as I can, and it feels good,” Cates said. “Obviously, I won’t know exactly how good until I get on a bull. Shoot, I am expecting it to be pretty good.”
Cates, who is tied for the BFTS lead in event wins (2), has been one of the most inconsistent riders (33.33 riding percentage) in the Top 10 and he will look to turn things around and gain ground in the standings when he takes on Chocolate Thunder (19-5, BFTS) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
He was excited when told he had drawn Chocolate Thunder for the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
“Oh, money!” Cates responded. “That is exciting. That is awesome. I have never been on him. There is probably only one more in there that I could have been even more excited about and that would have been Percolator, but I am not going to complain.”
Nampa will be Chocolate Thunder’s season-debut. He last bucked at the Belt, Montana, Touring Pro Division event last June and was ridden by Stetson Lawrence for 91 points.
Nance was also thrilled to learn of his matchup against Stone Sober (24-2, BFTS).
“Oh, nice. I have wanted to get on that bull for a long time,” Nance said. “I like his action and the way he bucks. Nobody never knows what he is going to do so it just take it jump for jump. The mentality part of it has to be just get on him and do your best. Shoot, if you ride him you are going to win.”
Nance spent the past four weeks rehabbing his glutes and groin muscles to help strengthen and relieve tension on his pelvis.
“Mainly, I just wanted to strengthen my glutes and hips,” Nance said. “When you strengthen your hips, it also stabilizes your pelvis.”
He didn’t get on any practice bulls, but instead tested out his pelvis on a drop barrel during his recovery.
The 27-year-old sounded rejuvenated from the time off and said the hard decision to voluntarily take time off was worth it.
“My body feels really good,” Nance said. “The time off was good to rest from the broken arm and different things. The time off really did my body some good. Sometimes the most stressful thing about it is knowing you need the time off and you won’t get the chance to do it. I only missed two events, but got four weeks off, so it worked out for me.”
All three riders have chosen not to get on any practice bulls in their recovery processes and have never faced their respective bulls.
There will be nine rematches in the 15/15 Bucking Battle: Shane Proctor vs. Mick E Mouse; Mike Lee vs. Percolator; Stetson Lawrence vs. Walk Off; Guilherme Marchi vs. Calypso; Ben Jones vs. I’m a Gangster Too; Kaique Pacheco vs. Smooth Operator; Silvano Alves vs. Cooper Tires Brown Sugar; Valdiron de Oliveira vs. Sweet Pro’s Long John and Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Beaver Creek Beau.
Marchi and Lee are the only two riders to previously cover their bulls.
Lee had ridden Percolator for 82.5 points at the Chicago Invitational in 2014, while just last week Marchi had ridden Calypso for 90.5 points.
“That is a really good bull,” Marchi said in Seattle. “He was right there into my hand. I was so happy to cover him. He was very strong and was moving forward a little bit. I cover him pretty good. It worked for me.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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