By: Justin Felisko
March 31, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational on Friday night at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Wilkinson cracks Top 30 of world standings (3-31-17)
Troy Wilkinson knew he had to be ready for anything on Friday night, such is the case when you are attempting to ride a 1,500-pound and unpredictable bucking bull.
Wilkinson also knew he had to pick up a big-time ride if he wanted to avoid losing his spot on the Built Ford Tough Series this weekend.
Therefore, Wilkinson made sure not to be fooled when Call the Law decided to turn away from his riding hand 4 seconds into his 86.5-point ride in Round 1.
“When you are on the bubble, it is tough,” Wilkinson said. “It is on the back of your mind the whole time. To get some round points, that is good for the rest of the weekend.”
Wilkinson tied for second-place in Round 1 with Dakota Buttar (86.5 points on American Sniper) to pick up 55 points toward the world standings.
The 26-year-old entered Round 1 ranked 34th in the world standings and ended the evening ranked 29th.
Wilkinson credited stock contractor Cord McCoy for prepping him with a scouting report on Call the Law.
“I seen he went to the left and Cord MCoy, who owns him, said he may go right. I was ready for anything. Like any other bull. He felt good into my hand and I was pretty happy he went away from my hand. That made it a little bit easier.”
Wilkinson prefers bulls that go away from his hand, and he will look to further distance himself from the BFTS cutline when he takes on Sam (5-4, BFTS) in Round 2 on Saturday night.
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Also helping his cause to remain on the BFTS was Robson Aragao.
The 37-year-old placed fourth in the round with an 84.5-point ride on Smooth Over, ending a streak of four consecutive buckoffs.
Aragao, this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour invite, picked up 40 world points to move to 35th in the world standings.
The Brazilian bull rider also wants to increase his standing in the world rankings so that he can compete at the PBR Global Cup in Edmonton on Nov. 9-11.
“I need to ride good,” Aragao said. “I am very excited for the Global Cup. I need to be ranked in the Top 5 (of Brazilian riders). This is very important for anyone trying to ride bulls at this time. I am going to try so hard.”
The Top 5 riders in the world standings after the Thackerville, Oklahoma, BFTS event for Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United States will automatically qualify for the Global Cup.
Aragao may be looking far down the road, but he knows it starts with getting the job done at the BFTS level.
“Riding bulls is not easy,” Aragao said. “If you are riding good, it don’t matter if the bull is rank. Tonight, this bull bucked good and helped me.”
Aragao will take on Big Show (0-0, BFTS) in Round 2 on Saturday night.
Practice pays off for Vieira…sort of
Joao Ricardo Vieira picked up the Round 1 win by doing what he does best, riding bulls into his left riding hand.
Bad Moon Rising spun right into Vieira’s wheelhouse and the ride was basically over within the first 2 seconds.
“That was a very fast bull,” Vieira said. “I don’t see nothing at one point. He was so fast. My body is good and my mentality was good.”
Vieira picked up 100 world points for his third round win of the season, but the No. 11 ranked bull rider in the world standings knows what he has to do if he ever hopes to become a World Champion.
The 32-year-old’s kryptonite is riding bulls away from his hand and he made that a focus on Tuesday when he rode three practice bulls at the D&H Cattle Company ranch in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
“It was good practice,” Vieira said. “I am only riding bulls that turn right. It is helping me, but H.D. Page’s bulls are crazy. You have to be mentally ready to practice.”
Vieira also spent time chatting with PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert prior to Round 1 about his struggles riding bulls away from my hand.
“He told me to use more of my (riding) shoulder,” Vieira said. “I like him for wanting to help me. He is a very experienced cowboy. It is OK. It is not too late to be fix it.”
Vieira expects to be challenged Saturday in Round 2 against Big Benny (7-4, BFTS).
“Usually he starts to the left and turns to the right,” Vieira said.
Vieira will then compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle when he takes on Smooth Operator (36-3, BFTS).
Bulls dominate in Round 1
Night one was an ABBI Classic Round and the top 3- and 4-year-old bucking bulls got the best of the Top 35 bull riders.
There were only six qualified rides in Round 1, with the Top 20 riders in the world standings going a combined 3-for-20.
The six rides ties a season-low for long round competition. There were six rides in Round 2 of the Oklahoma City event.
Kaique Pacheco was the only rider inside the Top 10 of the world standings to pick up a qualified ride, and his was not anything special.
Pacheco decided to keep a 69-point score after covering Red Moon. The 21-year-old injured his left elbow during his dismount, but said it wasn’t anything serious.
World leader Eduardo Aparecido may have won the round if not for bucking off just before the whistle.
Aparecido was bucked off by Wild Sky’s in 7.88 seconds, while Jess Lockwood lasted 4.85 seconds on Get Smoked.
The good news for Lockwood was that he said his left groin felt fine in his first competition in five weeks.
“It is good,” he said. “I just got bucked off.”
4A Midnight Show and Thunder’s Cartel tied for first place in the ABBI competition.
4A Midnight Show disposed two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney in 2.79 seconds, while Thunder’s Cartel used a massive jump out of the bucking chute to throw Chase Outlaw after 2.21 seconds.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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