PUEBLO, Colo. – As the weeks and days continue to count down toward the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 1-5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, so do the number of opportunities for the top bull riders in the world standings to set themselves up in pristine shape in the World Championship race.
A week after the Top 15 riders in the world standings went only 6-for-38 in Thackerville, Oklahoma, they will now to need to refocus for the final three-day event weekend of the regular season.
The PFIWestern.com Invitational, presented by Bass Pro Shops, is one of seven remaining regular-season Built Ford Tough Series events and it also will have a 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night.
The Top 15 riders in the world standings could potentially get on as many as five bulls in three nights.
They will not get on this many bulls in one event again until the World Finals.
“It is going to be tough on them, but it is also opportunity,” said two-time World Champion Justin McBride. “There is a lot of opportunity. When it gets tough and a lot of guys start quitting, that is when you find your champions – the guys that can grit it out.”
One rider can win up to 900 points in Springfield, not including the 150 world points a rider can earn with a 15/15 Bucking Battle victory.
And for the second week in a row the 15/15 Bucking Battle will feature a ton of rematches, as well as the return of No. 14 Mason Lowe.
No. 5 Chase Outlaw was scheduled to face Seven Dust but pulled out Wednesday due to injury, he has been replaced by No. 18 Claudio Montanha Jr.
“Here is the deal,” McBride added. “It isn’t as tough on you when you are making good rides. Bull riding is not nearly as physically demanding when you are in the middle of them making good rides. It is when you are strung out, and getting slung around, stomped on and slammed to the ground. That is when it starts piling up on you.”
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups
Stetson Lawrence vs. Jeremiah (29-1, BFTS)*
Marco Eguchi vs. Mystikal (13-1, BFTS)*
Rubens Barbosa vs. Cochise (26-5, BFTS)*
Mason Lowe vs. Catfish John (21-7, BFTS)*
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Dusty’s Revenge (7-0, BFTS)
Cody Nance vs. Hammer It Again (8-1, BFTS)*
Cody Teel vs. Speed Demon (8-2, BFTS)*
Matt Triplett vs. Smooth Operator (41-3, BFTS)*
Stormy Wing vs. TLW’s Big Cat (26-1, BFTS)*
Cooper Davis vs. Cut The Cord (18-1, BFTS)*$
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Seven Dust (29-2, BFTS)*
Derek Kolbaba vs. Stone Sober (48-3, BFTS)*
Jess Lockwood vs. SweetPro’s Bruiser (32-8, BFTS)*
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Burn It Down (10-1, BFTS)
Kaique Pacheco vs. Jack Shot (19-3, BFTS)*$
$ Rider has successfully previously ridden the bull
Thirteen of the matchups are rematches; only two (Pacheco and Davis) of which went in favor of the rider.
World leader Kaique Pacheco will take on Jack Shot for a second consecutive week after the D&H Cattle Company bovine athlete dislodged him at the 6.88-second mark last week in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Pacheco was previously undefeated at 2-0 against Jack Shot.
The 22-year-old leads Eduardo Aparecido – last week’s 15/15 Bucking Battle victor – by only 210 points.
Aparecido, Outlaw and Joao Ricardo Vieira are the only riders without a rematch.
Meanwhile, Cooper Davis may have the best rematch of them all.
The No. 6 rider in the world standings takes on Cut The Cord after previously riding the bull for a season-high 91 points in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Davis is the only rider to have reached 8 seconds on Cut The Cord in the bull’s three-year career.
The ride was also the second-best of Davis’ career and is tied with his 91-point ride on Catfish John last year that won him the World Championship at the World Finals.
Speaking of Catfish John, he will be competing this weekend against Lowe.
Catfish John bucked off Lowe in 4.94 seconds at Last Cowboy Standing in May.
Lowe is returning to competition after taking the last two weeks off to rest his injured right elbow.
The Exeter, Missouri, native is going to ride with an elbow brace for the first time in his career.
“My brace should be in on Thursday,” Lowe said via text message. “I’ve been trying to stretch everything out and ice it.”
Lowe has had elbow issues even before he turned pro after developing some bad habits, such as riding on the end of his arm and leaning back.
The 23-year-old admitted he likely will need surgery on his elbow following the World Finals and may have to take the rest of the regular-season off if the brace doesn’t help him feel any better.
“Yeah, I’ve held off too long on fixing it,” Lowe said.
In regards of the World Champion Bull race, SweetPro’s Bruiser will get a chance to increase his World Champion Bull average in a marquee matchup with Jess Lockwood.
The 2016 World Champion Bull bucked off Lockwood at the Young Guns Challenge during the Velocity Tour event in Decatur, Texas, last summer. Lockwood made it 6.57 seconds then, but the 2016 Rookie of the Year is arguably a better bull rider now.
Bruiser is second in the 2017 World Champion Bull race with a 46-point World Champion Bull average. He is coming off a 45.25-point outing in Thackerville against 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel (1.9 seconds).
“I wasn’t jumping up and down about Bruiser” Lambert said. “I thought it was a common day for Bruiser. I thought he was real good, but I have seen him when he was really, really good.”
For the second week in a row, world No. 4 Derek Kolbaba will square off against Stone Sober.
Stone Sober won the battle in Thackerville, downing Kolbaba in a brief 3.68 seconds.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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