The Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic Round one delivered a lot of action and quite a few surprises inside the Greensboro Coliseum. Again, the PBR championship race tightened in action that started fast in round one with the chutes packed early with heavy-hitting bulls.
Cody Nance, initially paired up with Frequent Flyer (33/4) for the fourth time in his career; was granted a reride shortly after bucking off the bull. His reride bull, Paint The Town (7/1) looked like it would go Cody’s way but the Global Cup hopeful for Team USA Eagles slapped the bull after getting pulled down into the spin for no score.
Shay Marks had a tough match this round with Heartbreak Kid (38-0), who may soon be the most famous bull on the planet if he can dismiss five more consecutive riders to break Bushwacker’s famous buck-off streak. Stock contractor HD Page switched the delivery of the bull from the right to the left to see if it helps improve his bull score. The bold move appears to have worked; Heartbreak Kid made very short work of Shay and earned the round’s highest bull score 45.75. It looks like Heartbreak Kid will be bucking from the left delivery for the championship round today, and looking to add another buck off to his historic run.
In what was probably the round’s most interesting matchup, the World No.3 rider took on World No.3 bull when Chase Outlaw faced Fearless. Sitting comfortably and about to start spurring Fearless, Outlaw was yanked forward and slapped the bull just under the 8-second mark for no score. With only one regular-season event remaining before World Finals, Outlaw is fired up to return in the second round, looking for the round win and event win on two bulls.
Tar Heel state native J.B. Mauney who now calls Cotulla, TX home made his premier series return at this event following a layoff to heal from various injuries and with his wife and young son in the house was excited to be paired up with Why Hell Ya (0-1), a bull Chase Outlaw had taken for 88 points. What happened in the chutes was pure hell. JB was violently tossed around by Why Hell Ya and flipped over the gate. Dr. Tandy Freeman reported Mauney has a possible fractured fibula and stretched nerve. He was unable to take his reride and is questionable for round two.
Gage Gay made his premier series debut when paired with Spotted Fever (1-0) a relatively unknown bull who appeared to be a practice bull for Gage. The home state favorite was well on his way to make the 8-second whistle but lost his rope and bucked off shortly after 7 seconds. It was not the start to his premier series season a finally healthy Gay wanted but he could still make the championship round today due to only ten rides being posted in round one.
Cody Jesus was unable to f ind a dance partner for 8-seconds in being outsmarted by Wild Goose (25-6), who bucked him off in short order. Jesus had conquered the rankest bull last weekend in the Twin Cities and may surprise fans in round two.
World Title Race Matchups
The world title race grew even more interesting after round one of the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic, courtesy of big rides from two former world champions.
Cooper Davis was originally paired with Cool Customer (17-3) who bucked off the 206 World Champion the last time they met in Salt Lake City. The gate opened but Cooper had not nodded; he was granted a reride on Newsom (8-4) and danced on the bull to an 88-point ride that would win the round – his ninth round win of the season –bringing him 100 world points.
Joao Ricardo Viera was matched up with Sambuca (2-1) and was bucked off shortly after leaving the chute as the bull went away from Joao’s hand. Even though Joao has worked on improving riding bulls in this direction, it did not work this time.
Jess Lockwood came into Greensboro with momentum from the 15/15 Bucking Battle victory and placing third in the overall event in the Minneapolis Invitational. The 2017 World champion was able to dance with Red Solo Cup (0-2) to 87 points to place second in the round, net 60 world points and decrease world No.1 bull rider Jose Vitor Leme’s current lead to 611.66 points.
Leme had come into Greensboro looking to bounce back from a dismal performance (0-3) in the Twin Cities and seeing his lead diminish to 671.66 points after the event. Jose seemed confident in his ability to bounce back from his poor performance in the Minneapolis Invitational, but Silent Night (2-0) brought Jose down over his head before the 8-second whistle.
Rookie of the Year Matchups
Ezekiel Mitchell appears to be getting on another hot streak, making the 8-second whistle on Whiskey River (2-4) for an 84.75 point-ride that was good enough to net 30 world points for this round.
The other Rookie of the Year contender, Mason Taylor, who credits losing eleven pounds with his improved riding ability was able to dance with Life As A Gangster (9/5) for 81 points. The ride did not earn him any world points but boosted his confidence heading into championship Sunday.
Alan De Souza has a twin brother Alisson also riding on the premier series; the Brazilians the first brothers at the top of the PBR since Adriano Moreas and his brother Alan and first twins to ride since the Carillo brothers were on the premier series together. It will be interesting to see these two compete against each other, and if Alan keeps his riding up if he will be able to overtake Dalton Kasel as the leader in the Rookie of the Year race.
Friday night, the Greensboro Coliseum was electric, action-packed and full of surprises that make these events must-see for fans. Fans can still watch all of the round two action of the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic as PBR will broadcast listen LIVE coverage on RidePass. The action on the PBR subscription-based digital network starts at 1:45 P.M. EST.
Also CBS Sports Network will broadcast coverage of the round and championship round starting at 6:00 P.M. EST.