Home » What to Watch For: Injuries, extended format leave door open for World Finals hopefuls

What to Watch For: Injuries, extended format leave door open for World Finals hopefuls

With No. 1 Leme and No. 5 Campbell ruled out, will the bulls get the best of the pack for a third-straight weekend?

by Chris Dize
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PUEBLO, Colo. — While the main principle of bull riding can always be boiled down to surviving for eight seconds, there are many elements that make up a successful bull ride.

Even more factors go into exiting an Unleash the Beast season atop the rankings to earn the elusive gold buckle.

But as the saying goes … “the best ability is availability,” and as injuries continue to affect nearly half of the top 30-ranked riders heading into this weekend’s PBR First Premier Bank/Premier Bankcard Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, availability continues to be the most important factor for the entire premier series field.

The health of the riders themselves, but also the opportunities that come alongside some of the world’s best riders being forced to miss action.

With No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme set to miss some more time after getting banged up during his championship round attempt against Fastfire, No. 5 Boudreaux Campbell dealing with an injury sustained last weekend in Albuquerque and No. 3 Dalton Kasel questionable from getting roughed up inside The Pit as well, suddenly three of the Top 5-ranked riders could be out of commission this weekend. With No. 6 Cooper Davis questionable as well, but feeling optimistic about his chances, this thing could truly be wide open for the taking.

Despite potentially missing some of the tour’s top talent, the show must go on.

For riders like No. 2 Kaique Pacheco, who’s now just 61.5 points back of Leme, it’s an opportunity to surpass the talented veteran and possibly build a lead, knowing Leme will inevitably return before season’s end to a make a run at the world title.

For guys like Wyatt Rogers, currently sitting at No. 41 in the UTB standings, it’s a chance to prove he deserves a shot at the year-end showcase.

“I just have to stay on my bulls,” Rogers said.

“I know I belong here and need to keep telling myself that and believing in myself. God wants me to be here, so just follow his lead.”

With eight rides in 33 opportunities this season, Rogers has seen his fair share of UTB bulls en route to earning 81 UTB points to date for his six Top 20 finishes.

It’s guys like 2022 PBR Brazil Champion Cassio Dias who have the most to gain with the banged-up roster.

RELATED: 2022 PBR Brazil Champion dazzles in debut

Or better yet, one of the several cowboys set to make either their 2023 UTB debut or overall premier series inaugural appearance with the event’s extended format.

A little luck, and as of the last two weekends, just two rides in one event, could go a long way for any of the newcomers. The same could be said for talents like Rogers who could use a productive weekend or two to not only help solidify a real shot at a World Finals qualification, but to be in favorable position for a run.

The way things sit right now, an event win this weekend could thrust any given victor right into contention for a World Finals qualification. A couple of quality rides and a Top 3 finish could garner an invite back for another chance at proving themselves worthy, too.

Priorities after staying on for eight seconds have to be staying healthy, which always involves a bit of luck.

As the race to be crowned 2023 World Champion continues to draw closer, prized UTB points become more valuable each and every week. Especially with the addition of this weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle, it’ll be a good day to have a day for anyone looking to strike gold at the end of the year.

With the 2023 World Finals set to invade Dickies Arena May 12-21 in Fort Worth, Texas, let’s take a look at who’s drawing into the lineup during this weekend’s PBR First Premier Bank/Premier Bankcard Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires in Sioux Falls, South Dakota:

Dalton Kasel
Kaique Pacheco
Andrew Alvidrez
Cooper Davis
Rafael Jose de Brito
Daniel Keeping
Dener Barbosa
Jesse Petri
Joao Ricardo Vieira
Silvano Alves
Wingson Henrique da Silva
Eduardo Aparecido
Colten Fritzlan
Eli Vastbinder
Tate Pollmeier
Rafael Henrique dos Santos
Koltin Hevalow
Derek Kolbaba
Manoelito de Souza Junior
Braidy Randolph
Ramon de Lima
Marcus Mast
Ezekiel Mitchell
Flavio Zivieri
Chase Outlaw
Nick Tetz
Wyatt Rogers
Dakota Louis
Mauricio Gulla Moreira
Alex Cerqueira
Chase Dougherty
Adriano Salgado
Aaron Williams
Conner Halverson
Griffin Smeltzer
Afonso Quintino
Josh Frost
Dalton Rudman
Cassio Dias
Matt Triplett
Elizmar Jeremias
Claudio Montanha Jr.
Casey Coulter
Dawson Branton
Dustin Martinez
Dakota Eagleburger
Mason Moody
Brandon Chambers
Kyle Jones
Garrett Jones
Ray Mayo
Brandon McDowell
Guilherme Valleiras
Cody McCandless
Carlos Garcia
Cody Hooks
Zane Cook
Brady Turgeon
Alvaro Ariel
Trent Nugent

Kaique Pacheco
Dalton Kasel
Andrew Alvidrez
Cooper Davis
Rafael Jose de Brito
Daniel Keeping
Dener Barbosa
Jesse Petri
Joao Ricardo Vieira
Silvano Alves
Wingson Henrique da Silva
Eduardo Aparecido
Colten Fritzlan
Eli Vastbinder
Tate Pollmeier

Jose Vitor Leme
Boudreaux Campbell
Luciano de Castro
Keyshawn Whitehorse
Mason Taylor
Kyler Oliver
Marcelo Procopio Pereira
Brady Oleson
Jess Lockwood
Casey Roberts
Bob Mitchell
Austin Richardson
Daylon Swearingen
JP Souza
Briggs Madsen
Ednei Caminhas
Alex Marcilio
Lucas Divino
Cole Melancon
Tyler Manor

Just because all of the riders can’t come out to play doesn’t mean the rankest bulls in the world aren’t still coming to town. With 13 of the Top 15 bulls set to punch the clock inside Denny Sanford Premier Center, including Cool Whip, FastfireRicky VaughnFlapjackRidin’ SoloUTZ BesTex LegendManabaMoonlight PartyAlakazamDirtyBruChateau Montelena’s Montana JacketTop Dollar and UTZ BestTex Smokestack, there will be plenty of points to be had. It’ll be up to the riders to do their part, and with a quick glance at the last two weeks’ results page on PBR.com, the bulls have been getting the best of the pack, putting even more pressure on the world’s best riders this weekend in Sioux Falls.

Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Casper (88.5 points seconds at Monster Energy Invitational in Indianapolis, Indiana)
Jesse Petri vs. Flapjack (4.48 seconds at PBR Union Home Mortgage Invitational in New Orleans, Louisiana)
Chase Outlaw vs. Cuttin Torch (7.16 seconds at PBR Gwinnett Invitational in Duluth, Georgia)
Ezekiel Mitchell vs. Hunting Trip (2.22 seconds at PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Mauricio Gulla Moreira vs. Mike’s Magic (7.19 seconds at PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Pit Boss in Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Dalton Kasel vs. Manaba (2.48 seconds at Team Series Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada; 93.25 points at Rattler Days in Fort Worth, Texas; 4.09 seconds at Freedom Days in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; 88.25 points at PBR ZipRecruiter Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires 15/15 Bucking Battle in Nampa, Idaho)
Dener Barbosa vs. Chateau Montelena’s Montana Jacket (3.39 seconds at PBR SoCal Showdown in Los Angeles, California)
Eduardo Aparecido vs. I’m Legit Too (2.33 seconds at PBR First Premier Bankcard Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires 15/15 Bucking Battle; 2.17 seconds at PBR Ariat Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires 15/15 Bucking Battle in Billings, Montana)
Jesse Petri vs. Alakazam (1.71 seconds at PBR Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic 15/15 Bucking Battle in Sacramento, California)


With Unleash the Beast’s elite bull riding talent and bovine athletes set to invade Denny Sanford Premier Center March 31-April 2 during the PBR First Premier Bank/Premier Bankcard Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, the action is set to begin Friday, March 31 at 7:45 p.m. MST. The slate continues Saturday, April 1 at 6:45 p.m. MST, with the three-day showcase set to conclude Sunday, April 2 at 2:45 p.m. MST.

The three-day format will be split up the same as last weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Round 1 taking place over Friday and Saturday, accompanied by the 15/15 Bucking Battle to close things out Saturday evening. Sunday will begin with Round 2 action, with the 12 best-scored riders advancing the prized short go as Sunday’s finale. Friday and Saturday’s Round 1 action will be aired live on RidePass on Pluto TV, while the 15/15 Bucking Battle will be aired on CBS at 10 a.m. MST. The weekend’s championship round is set to broadcast on CBS Sports Network at 2 p.m. MST.

Fans can stay tuned to PBR.com and PBR social media channels throughout the weekend for the latest scores, wrecks, injury updates and beyond as the Unleash The Beast tour prepares to invade The Pit during this weekend’s PBR Ty Murray Invitational, presented by The Downs Racetrack & Casino in Albuquerque March 24-26.

Article Courtesy of PBR

Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media 

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