It's the first round of the 2018 PBR World Finals, and all eyes will be on frontrunners Kaique Pacheco and Jose Vitor Leme. But the rest of the round features intriguing matchups that could end up in big scores.
Alisson de Souza on 444 Big Black:
Souza has an opportunity to make a statement ride here and win the round in a big way, but it won’t be easy. Big Black may be the best-known ABBI Classic bull this year, and he’s certainly been one of the strongest. He is fifth in the ABBI Points standings, second in money, and he’s also solidly in the PBR World Champion Bull race. Two titles are within reach this week for the K bar C / Webb bull, and he has the upper hand in his first matchup. Big Black is a tough match for a right-handed rider, and while Souza certainly drew well, Big Black may have drawn better.
Dakota Buttar on B433 Night Sweats:
Night Sweats has been ridden just three times in 19 career outs, but he’s still a good draw for a left-handed rider. His difficulty comes from his ability move around in the spin and move forward in the spin while keeping solid pressure on the rider. But nearly everything that makes him difficult to ride is less of a problem if he’s going into the rider’s hand. Buttar has a chance to post a big score here.
Gage Gay on 1518 Uncle Gangster:
Gay may not be the healthiest rider coming in, but he sure has a great matchup in this opening round. Kaique Pacheco was 91 points on Uncle Gangster in Springfield, Missouri, to win a round, and he made this bull look like a right-handed rider’s dream. The catch is that Pacheco makes a lot of difficult bulls look easy, but even with that Gay has to be pleased with this draw.
Jose Vitor Leme on 4721 Full Count:
Leme was the hero of this event last year, and another big-time performance might get him a world title. Kaique Pacheco has a healthy lead in the standings, but the injuries he sustained at the Velocity Finals are serious enough to question his ability to score points this week. Leme has the best chance and is in the best position to catch Pacheco. He has a good draw here. Full Count made it here with a solid effort in the ABBI Wild Card competition at the Velocity Finals last Friday. He doesn’t have a long history, but he goes to the left and should be a good fit for Leme.
Derek Kolbaba on 584C Missile Toes:
This bull doesn’t have a lot of outs on record, but he likes to go to the left, and he’s given up a couple of good scores this season. This is a Bob & Jeri Adams / D&H Cattle bull, and while he’s not directly related to Bruiser, he will remind you of Bruiser a little bit in both his looks and his bucking style. He has some of the up and down and the snap and kick that have made Bruiser one of the best bulls of all time. Good matchup for Kolbaba.
Colten Jesse on 450 Uptown Funk:
Jesse is in second place in the Rookie of the Year race, and he has a great chance to jump to the lead with this bull. This is one of the better bulls in this round for a left-handed rider, and he can be good enough to place high in the round.
Cody Teel on 23B Fearless:
Fearless comes into this event with an impressive record. He leads the ABBI Classic division standings in both points and money, he’s unridden on record, and one judge marked him 25 points at a Utah rodeo over the summer. This is a pretty tough bull for any rider, but Teel is one of the toughest riders on tour.
Jess Lockwood on 45 Royal Flush:
This bull isn’t straightforward or honest, and he has a bag of tricks that can put any rider on the ground, but his downfall may be that he goes to the left. Lockwood may not be 100% healthy, but he’s an agile rider who can deal with most things bulls throw at him, especially if they go into his hand.
Kaique Pacheco on L53 Rugby:
Pacheco doesn’t need to have a huge finals to win the world, but he does need some qualified rides and he needs to score some points this week. This bull should be just what he needs to get started. We saw Rugby throw Reese Cates off Friday at the Velocity Finals, but he looked like a bull that Pacheco might get along with. It won’t get any nicer than this as the week goes on, and Pacheco probably won’t be feeling his best. Dealing with injuries is part of the game, and if Pacheco is strong enough to prevail this week, there’s a big prize at the end for him.
Stetson Lawrence on 16B Budakon:
This is one of the best of this year’s 3- and 4-year-old bulls, but he’s given up two qualified rides to left-handed riders in his last two outs. Derek Kolbaba was 89.5 on him in Nampa just a few weeks ago, and 89.5 would be profitable for Lawrence here.
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