By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – For the first time since the second week of last season, 2018 World Champion Kaique Pacheco is back on top of the world standings, and his rise to the top pedestal in professional bull riding this season has been nothing short of impressive.
Pacheco will now take a 55-point lead on No. 2 Cooper Davis into this weekend’s PBR First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational after winning three of the PBR’s first eight Unleash The Beast events in 2021.
Pacheco is off to the best start of his career – 15-for-23 – and he not only leads the league in event wins, but his 65.22% riding average is also tops in the PBR.
“I am just happy with my rides,” Pacheco told Kate Harrison on CBS Sports Network. “To make my job and what I love to do: ride bulls. I just need to say thank you God for supporting me all the time. The fans that come to watch us, this is for you guys. The sponsors, the PBR, everything. I am just glad.”
The 26-year-old has double the number of world points of every other rider in the PBR except for Davis and No. 3 Jose Vitor Leme.
“That is really important,” Pacheco told Harrison about competing against Davis and Leme. “I do not think about that. I just want to do my job. Ride my bulls. Do what I love to do.”
Pacheco’s three event wins are his most since he won five events during his 2018 World Championship season. A quick comparison between 2018 and 2021 shows that he is off to a much more torrid pace this year than when he won his gold buckle and that he could be that much harder to defeat this season.
Through the first eight premier series events:
Rides: 2021 (15) / 2018 (5)
Outs: 2021 (23) / 2018 (20)
Riding Percentage: 2021 (65.22%) / 2018 (25%)
Average Ride Score: 2021 (86.72) / 2018 (86.4)
Event Wins: 2021 (3) / 2018 (0)
15/15 Bucking Battle Wins: 2021 (0) / 2018 (2)
Round Wins: 2021 (3) / 2018 (3)
90-point Rides: 2021 (1) / 2018 (0)
Best Ride: 91.25 points on Homegrown / 2018 88.5 points on Jack Shot
Analysis: It is easy to forget that Pacheco’s 2018 season began as one of his worst. Pacheco started that year a horrid 7-for-27 and looked anything but a World Champion contender. However, he turned things around with a victory at Last Cowboy Standing to end the first half, which featured a 92.75-point ride on SweetPro’s Bruiser, and he surged into the No. 1 world ranking.
Pacheco would finish 2018 with a 66.04% riding average following that early-season slump, which is very close to his 2021 riding percentage of 65.22%. Therefore, it may be possible for Pacheco to continue at his current pace, even if it is still almost 17% points higher than his career average of 48.39%.
The 2015 Rookie of the Year is 226-for-467 in his career since his rookie season, in which he finished runner-up to two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney in the title race.
Pacheco now has 17 event wins in his premier series career after he went 2-for-3 to win the Lucas Oil Invitational two weeks ago in Louisville, Kentucky.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride told CBS Sports Network’s Craig Hummer in Louisville that Pacheco is riding “lights out” this season.
“He is riding so good,” McBride said. “And it is so great. Cody Lambert and I were talking about this after the bull riding last night. It is so great to see him not back to where he was when he won his world title, but I think he is better.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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