ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Saturday night was an epic night for big scores. There were only 11 rides, but eight of those were over 87 points, and six of them went for 88 points or more. The Built Ford Tough Championship Round here will be tough on everyone, but there are a couple of ringer picks in there for the Top-2 riders, and Round 3 will play a big role in who wins the event. Chad Berger’s Big Black Cat and BC Circular Insanity are the two bulls to look for in the championship round, and they will probably be the first two bulls picked. So, the two guys at the top of the leaderboard after Round 3 have a clear path to the event win.
Koal Livingston on -915 Hammer Down:
I’m not really sure what kind of shape Livingston is in after getting in a wreck last night, but if he’s able to go today, he might sneak up and win a round. We aren’t likely to see a lot of 88-point rides like we did last night, and this is a bull that can bring that. Livingston has been on him before, and bucked off, but this is a bull he should be able to ride.
Chase Outlaw on 125 Catfish John:
This will be a little more of a test than either of the first two bulls Outlaw faced here in Albuquerque. Catfish John typically goes to the right, and he’s rarely ridden by left-handed riders, but it’s not really the direction that is difficult about him. Once this bull turns the corner he really steps on the gas and he can make a full round or two before the rider can really adjust to the change in speed and feel.
Most buckoffs in the PBR come down to just one jump. The rider’s goal is to win each jump by ending up close enough to the right spot to start the next jump from a good position. This is done by feel because it happens too fast to think it through. Anytime a bull does anything to change the way he feels to the rider, he has a chance to win that jump, and ultimately buck the rider off. Buried in that dry analysis is the key to what makes one rider great and another not, and it’s this: How close is close enough? Some guys struggle to recover from getting inches out of position, while J.B. Mauney, for example, just needs to be in the same building the bull is in. The best bull riders are the guys who are best at recovering.
Eduardo Aparecido on 214 Jailbreaker:
This bull doesn’t give up qualified rides easily. He’s been ridden just once in 30 career outs, and it’s not easy to see why. To the eye he looks like an ordinary bull. Aparecido will have to solve this mystery to get a second score, but he rode a difficult bull last night to win the round.
J.W. Harris on 262 Jailhouse Jr.
Harris should get back on track here. He had a bull that he really doesn’t get along with last night, but Jailhouse Jr. is very similar to the bull Harris dominated in Round 1 and Harris should pick up a good second score on him.
Claudio Montanha Jr. on X18 More Big Bucks & Shane Proctor on Z26 Acting Crazy:
Montanha and Proctor traded bulls here, and it could work out well for both guys. Proctor had More Big Bucks in the first round while Montanha had Acting Crazy. The two bulls are practically the same, except that Acting Crazy goes to the right while More Big Bucks goes to the left. Both are manageable for any rider at this level. Montanha and Proctor are both right-handed, and they are both coming in here 1-for-2 at this event so far.
Guilherme Marchi on Y4 Wired Child:
Marchi should get another score here. Wired Child has some power, and some big jumps, but he doesn’t have much speed, and he’s a decent fit for Marchi. He’s the kind of bull that can be manhandled to some extent, and Marchi is a strong rider who can muscle through some of the things bulls try to throw at him.
J.B. Mauney on 304 Vegas Lights:
Cody Rodeo Tyler rode this bull in the first round for 86.25 points, and if he has the same trip here, Mauney should be able to ride him in his sleep. That may not make this a slam dunk though, because Mauney has a history of going to sleep on some of the easiest bulls he faces.
Stormy Wing on 31 Little Deacon:
We don’t know much about this bull other than he threw Luis Blanco off in Round 1 and didn’t look that impressive doing it. The judges marked him under 40 points, and for him to even be in this round means Cody Lambert either disagreed with the judges, or he’s seen potential in this bull before. Little Deacon has been ridden just once in 10 career outs, but he hasn’t faced many top-tier riders.
Cody Nance on B9 Juicy Fruit:
Nance should pick up a third straight score easily on this bull. Stetson Lawrence rode Juicy Fruit in Round 1, and he was an order of magnitude easier than Crossfire - the bull Nance rode last night. If Nance can hold onto at least second place in the average, both of the two nicest bulls in the championship round are great for left-handed riders.
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