Vieira Has Eyes on Stampede Prize

PUEBLO, Colo. – Can Joao Ricardo Vieira check off another monumental win this season?

Vieira is one of 10 riders set to compete in Pool A of the Calgary Stampede on Friday afternoon at the Stampede Fairgrounds.

The current No. 1 bull rider in the world standings has already won the first two PBR Majors of the season – Iron Cowboy and Last Cowboy Standing – and he now will look to win what he calls the biggest rodeo in the world.

“For me, it is the biggest event in the world,” Vieira said. “It is such a big event. One, the attendance and, two, it includes all of the rodeo aspects, not just bull riding. That is why to me it is the biggest. I used to think Barrettos (Brazil) was the biggest until I went to Calgary and saw it. It is a lot prettier and it is like 50,000 people a day in attendance.”

Vieira has drawn Town City Hottie on Friday.

Vieira spent the past month competing sparingly in Brazil, while also doing some charity work in Sao Paulo.

This will be the 30-year-old’s second consecutive Calgary Stampede after finishing third at last year’s edition.

Vieira had only ridden 2-of-4 bulls in pool play last year, but the 2013 Rookie of the Year stole the show during the wild card round with an 87-point ride on Good Time Earl to qualify for Showdown Sunday.

He was poised for a potential victory and $100,000 payday when he began Showdown Sunday with an 89.5-point ride on Proper Ripped to enter the championship round in the lead.

Yet, Scott Schiffner, who snuck into the final round as the fourth and final rider, rode Mr. Buddy for 89.5 points to take home his second Calgary Stampede championship.

Adriano Moraes (1994) is the only Brazilian-born bull rider to ever win the Calgary Stampede.

For Schiffner, it had been 13 years since he won the prestigious rodeo as a wide-eyed 21-year-old.

“When you win a title like this when you’re 21, you think they are just going to hand them to you every year,” he said last year. “But all of a sudden, when you turn 30, you realize that that wasn’t quite the case. But, you keep moving on and trying to win.”

Schiffner is one of three former Stampede bull riding champions competing in Pool A. He is joined by Mike Lee (2008) and Chad Besplug (2012).

Lee knows what it is like to win that $100,000 paycheck.

“That’s a huge blessing for me or any bull rider,” Lee said last year. “$100,000 is a big deal. It makes a huge difference.”

Lee has already been victorious in Calgary this week after going 2-for-2 to win the 16th annual Ranchman’s Renegades PBR Bull Bustin’ on Wednesday.

The other six riders competing in Pool A are Dakota Buttar, Tanner ByrneTyler Pankewitz, Aaron Roy – making his first appearance in Calgary since his life-threatening 2013 wreck – Tyler Thomson and Fabiano Vieira.

Vieira is the 13th ranked rider in the world standings, while Lee sits 12thand Byrne is 19th.

Byrne actually placed second and fourth at the PBR Bull Bustin’ on Wednesday night.

Roy and Byrne were added to the Stampede draw after Matt Triplett (undisclosed injury) and Gage Gay (travel issues) withdrew from the event.

Pool B begins on Tuesday. Pool B consists of J.B. Mauney, J.W. HarrisGuilherme Marchi, Cody Nance, Stetson Lawrence, Sage Kimzey, Wesley Silcox, Beau Hill, Trey Benton III and Chandler Bonds.

The format for the Stampede, which has a combined $2 million worth of prize money up for grabs for the nine rodeo events, is different than a BFTS event.

Riders battle it out for four days in highly-contested pool play with the goal of advancing to Showdown Sunday as one of the pool’s top four money earners.  If they don’t make it, then they can jockey with the remaining riders on Wild Card Saturday for the final two spots.

However, once Sunday arrives, the slates are wiped clean and the Calgary Stampede champion will be the rider who posts the single highest-marked ride in the championship round, featuring the top four riders following Sunday’s long round.

The Top-6 finishers at the Calgary Stampede will be awarded points toward the world standings like a standard Touring Pro Division event.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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