Pacheco Dominant in Return to Unleash The Beast in Manchester

By: Darci Miller

PUEBLO, Colo. – When the Unleash The Beast returned to Manchester, New Hampshire, last weekend, all eyes were on the Ice Man.

2018 World Champion Kaique Pacheco was finally back in action.

In many ways, 2023 was a devastating year for Pacheco. He was ranked No. 1 in the Unleash The Beast World Championship standings before breaking his ankle at the penultimate regular-season event, sidelining him for the 2023 PBR World Finals and dashing his hopes of winning another gold buckle.

Pacheco would finish the 2023 UTB season ranked No. 3 in the world standings.

He then attempted to return to compete for the Nashville Stampede in the 2023 PBR Teams season, but his ankle continued to bother him. He ultimately had just one out in the fall as the Stampede stumbled to a seventh-place finish in the regular season and eighth-place finish at the 2023 PBR Teams Championship.

So, when Pacheco’s name was in the draw for Manchester after nearly eight months on the sidelines, it was tough to be sure which Pacheco was going to show up.

When healthy, he’s easily one of the best bull riders in the world – in addition to his gold buckle, he’s finished No. 2 in the world four times (2021-22, 2015-16), third once (2023), fifth once (2017) and sixth once (2020).

But would he be healthy? Would he be rusty?

Turns out, yes. And no.

In his first real PBR action since April, Pacheco went a flawless 3-for-3 in Manchester to finish second overall, just a few points behind first-time winner Brady Fielder.

Pacheco kicked things off with 84.25 points on Squealin’ Cat in Round 1 to get the first-ride-back monkey off his back, following that up with 84.75 points on One Man Gang in Round 2.

“Sooner or later,” CBS Sports Network play-by-play announcer Craig Hummer said of the notoriously stoic Pacheco, “this man will smile, and he will celebrate.”

“You want to see a guy bounce back from an injury and show that he hasn’t lost a step,” 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis said on CBS Sports Network. “He doesn’t have a lick of rust on him. Picture perfect right here. This is exactly what you expect from Kaique. Look at the (rider over bull score) right here – 44 over 40.75. That’s why Kaique Pacheco is a World Champion.”

Davis is referring to the difference in rider and bull score. Each athlete involved in a ride is awarded a score out of a possible 50 points, and the two are combined to get the total ride score. While One Man Gang was scored just 40.75 points, Pacheco earned a fantastic 44 points.

It was a difference that Davis pointed out again in the championship round. Pacheco rode Lapua for 85.75 points to move briefly into the event lead.

“I thought it could’ve been more than that, but that’s why they call him the Ice Man,” Davis said. “Look at the ROB right there – 44 over 41.75. That guy right there’s got ice running through his veins. He did his job.

“The bull score wouldn’t have got him there on itself. World Champion status right there, and that’s why he took over the lead.”

Just as Hummer predicted, Pacheco finally did celebrate when he took the event lead. While his time there was short-lived in Manchester, he’s won 23 Unleash The Beast events in his career.

If he keeps riding the way he’s began the 2024 season, there are bound to be others.

Pacheco will next be in action next weekend when the Unleash The Beast heads to Albany, New York, for the PBR Albany on Dec. 29-30. Action begins on Dec. 29 at 7:45 p.m. ET on RidePass on Pluto TV.

Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media

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