By: Kacie Albert
OKLAHOMA CITY – As the first night of action concluded at the 21st PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast event in Oklahoma City, the early 2021 PBR World Championship race intensified. Veteran Joao Ricardo Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil) recorded one of five qualified rides, winning Round 1 of the PBR Express Ranches Invitational to solidify his No. 4 world rank and hone in on the top spot.
While Vieira began the night with a 4.09-second battle against Alpha Dog (D&H Cattle Co./Hunter), he was swiftly awarded a re-ride, an opportunity the 36-year-old was quick to capitalize upon.
A poised Viera collected himself and exploded from the chutes atop Good Whiskey (Hebert Bucking Bulls/Akers). Matching the powerful bovine jump-for-jump, Vieira reached the whistle for a Round 1-winning 87.75 points.
The round victory is Vieira’s fourth of the season. He is tied for the league lead in round victories alongside 2020 PBR World Champion Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) and Cole Melancon (Paris, Texas).
For his efforts, Vieira earned 28 world points. Ranked No. 4 in the world standings, he is now within 155 points of No. 1 Kaique Pacheco (Itatiba, Brazil) after beginning the event 183 points back of the top position in the standings.
In Round 2 on Sunday afternoon, Vieira will climb aboard Stinger (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Stinger/Brunner) as he attempts to win his first elite tour event of the season.
Vieira was the lone rider inside the Top 5 to record a score in Round 1.
Pacheco was bested by Outlaw (Cord McCoy/Big Sky Bulls, LLC) in 3.44 seconds, while No. 3 Leme was dispatched by Butterfly Kisses (Copenhaver/Rockin T/Hilton) in an uncharacteristic 3.39 seconds, and world No. 5 Dener Barbosa (Paulo de Faria, Brazil) was bucked off by Mike’s Motive (Blake Sharp/High Voltage Cattle) in 2.34 seconds. World No. 2 Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas) is not competing in Oklahoma City after sustaining a concussion in Round 1 of last weekend’s elite tour event in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Marking the first fan-attended event inside Chesapeake Energy Arena since the onset of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the raucous crowd in attendance at the home of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder not only witnessed the world title race intensify, but also were left captivated by some of the league’s top up-and-coming bovine talent Saturday evening.
With Round 1 of the PBR Express Ranches Invitational also being an American Bucking Bull Inc. (ABBI) Classic event, the next step in a young bovine’s competitive career that involves bucking with a rider, the competing 3- and 4-year old bulls proved to be the dominant athletes.
The Bandit (Cord McCoy/Larry & Kathy Miller) led the pen courtesy of his 3.95-second buckoff of two-time PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana). He was crowned the ABBI Oklahoma City Classic Champion, earning more than $8,600.
Looking down the leaderboard in the Classic event, Juju (Julian/D&H Cattle), the Fort Worth Classic Champion and son of three-time PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser (D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co.), was second with 91 points to earn $5,890. Night Stalker (Cord McCoy/ProVantage Animal Health) earned a third-place finish with 90.4 points for $4,030.
Mike’s Magic (Five Star Ranch/BS Cattle Co.), the first bull to buck, began the night with a bang, registering a 90-point performance for fourth place and $3,410. Mr. Right Now (Silent 7/Hilton Bull Co.) and DJ Long John (Blake Sharp/High Voltage) rounded out the Top 5, both posting 89.4 points to earn $2,480 apiece.
Alex Cerqueira (Iguatemi, Brazil) was second in Round 1, earning 18 world points. He covered The Juice (Halpain/Kephart) for 87.25 points.
Cerqueira will next face Rodeo Time (Lucas Manning Bucking Bulls) in Round 2 of the PBR Express Ranches Invitational.
In third was Rookie of the Year contender Marcelo Procopio Pereira (Rinopolis, Brazil).
Pereira made the 8 aboard Oreo (Brian Shaw/Red Laces Cattle Co.) for 86.25 points to collect 17 world points. The Top-5 finish allowed the surging Brazilian to gain two positions in the world rankings, climbing from No. 26 to No. 24.
The 26-year-old has drawn Rocky (Cord McCoy/Ronnie Chism Farm & Ranch) in Round 2.
After battling injury early in the season, Cody Teel (College Station, Texas) was back in his championship-contending form Saturday evening, registering an 86-point score aboard Deep Water (Steve & Doreen Hawkins) to finish fourth in Round 1.
Teel’s gritty efforts earned him 16 world points and elevated him from No. 23 to No. 22 in the world standings. The Texan will attempt to record his second qualified ride in the Sooner State Sunday afternoon when he goes head-to-head against Landslide (Hodges/Shuler).
Junior Patrik Souza (Sonora, Brazil), the first rider to log a score in Round 1, was fifth.
Souza brought the socially distanced crowd to its feet when he rode Bulldaggar (Joe & Nina Webb/BS Cattle Co.) for 85 points.
He concluded the evening earning 15 world points, cracking back into the world’s Top 10 as he rose from No. 11 to No. 10. Souza will look to gain even further ground in Round 2 when he attempts The Sauce (Blake Sharp/Henry Wilson).
Fans can relive all the action from Round 1 of the PBR Express Ranches Invitational starting at 8:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, April 18, on RidePass, at RidePass.com or via the mobile app.
PBR Unleash The Beast action from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Chesapeake Energy Arena will conclude on Sunday, April 18, starting at 1:45 p.m. CDT, with Round 2 and the championship round.
PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR Express Ranches Invitational
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. João Ricardo Vieira, 87.75-0-0-87.75-28 Points.
2. Alex Cerqueira, 87.25-0-0-87.25-18 Points.
3. Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 86.25-0-0-86.25-17 Points.
4. Cody Teel, 86-0-0-86.00-16 Points.
5. Junior Patrik Souza, 85-0-0-85.00-15 Points.
Kaique Pacheco, 0-0-0-0.00
Jose Vitor Leme, 0-0-0-0.00
Dener Barbosa, 0-0-0-0.00
Cole Melancon, 0-0-0-0.00
Rafael Henrique dos Santos, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00
Derek Kolbaba, 0-0-0-0.00
Colten Fritzlan, 0-0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 0-0-0-0.00
Marco Eguchi, 0-0-0-0.00
Eduardo Aparecido, 0-0-0-0.00
Kyler Oliver, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Nance, 0-0-0-0.00
Jess Lockwood, 0-0-0-0.00
João Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0.00
Brennon Eldred, 0-0-0-0.00
Claudio Montanha Jr., 0-0-0-0.00
Kyle Jones, 0-0-0-0.00
Rodrigo Melgar, 0-0-0-0.00
Paulo Ferreira Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Eli Vastbinder, 0-0-0-0.00
Marcus Mast, 0-0-0-0.00
Chase Dougherty, 0-0-0-0.00
Ramon de Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0-0.00
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