This event is the third of four Majors this year, and there are a lot of points on the line.
Cheyenne will also feature the Last Cowboy Standing format, which fits with the overall Cheyenne Frontier Days vibe. This has long been a rodeo where lower ranked cowboys have come to try and knock off the world leaders in every rodeo event. The LCS format allows for that, but here in the first round it’s ride or go home for guys outside the PBR Top 15 or so.
The Top 25 scores/riders from the opening round will continue on to Round 2 on Tuesday. If there are fewer than 25 rides tonight, the 25 spots will be filled based on the world standings, so the Top 10 or so riders coming in have an excellent chance to get to Round 2 even if they come down in the opening round. The lower ranked guys can’t afford to let the first one slide.
The Round 1 pen of bulls is significantly lighter than what we will see for the rest of the event. Round 2 starts with the top bulls in the business and is meant to pare the field down to eight or so guys. The odds of a qualified ride for any rider are better tonight than they will be tomorrow.
Alisson de Souza on -247 Red Bandana:
This is one of the better bulls out in this round, but he’s rideable, and Souza has ridden him before. Red Bandana has been significantly easier for riders this season than in any other year we’ve seen him. He’s been ridden around 30 percent of the time throughout his career, but UTB-level riders are 4-for-4 on him in 2019. Souza needs to win this matchup because he’s 22nd in the standings and unlikely to get a free pass to Round 2.
Jose Vitor Leme on 374 Hot Habanero:
This bull is a safe zone for any left-handed rider, and Leme should have an easy time here. Leme does let himself get beaten by bulls that are beneath his ability occasionally, but rarely does this happen on a bull that goes into his hand.
Joe Frost on 1518 Uncle Gangster:
Frost has a good matchup here. Uncle Gangster is a solid long round bull, but he’s on the easier side, especially against the more talented riders. Frost needs a score here, and he should be able to get one.
Jess Lockwood on 20 Spectacular:
This is a relatively new bull. Taylor Toves was 89 on him in Rocksprings, Texas, just last month. Lockwood has been absolutely killing it this summer, and Spectacular will need to truly be spectacular to get him on the ground.
Dakota Buttar on 37Z Udder Lover:
Udder Lover is one of the best bulls in this round. He’s rideable, but not easy, and he produces a lot of round wins for riders. He’s flashy and showy more than he is powerful, but he’s competent enough at getting riders on the ground. There’s a good chance that he will go away from Buttar’s hand, but this is a must-ride situation for Buttar.
Derek Kolbaba on V72 Skitso:
Kolbaba is having a decent year so far. He’s eighth in the world coming in, and he could really use a win at a Major. Kolbaba is usually ranked higher than his riding percentage would indicate, and he pulls this off by winning a lot. The bigger the win, the better for him. He has a pretty good draw here. Daylon Swearingen was 88 points on Skitso just about a week ago in Jackson, Wyoming.
J.B. Mauney on 450 Scarface:
This is a mismatch in Mauney’s favor for sure. Mauney has struggled with injury for a while, and he’s had a chance to heal up a little since May. He needs to stay on here, and he should handle this bull with ease.
Chase Outlaw on 453 American Made:
This is a new bull with only two previous outs, but Marco Eguchi rode him in Albuquerque for 87.75 points and second in a round. Outlaw has been on a roll all year. He’s been on a lot of bulls, and he’s put up championship level numbers so far. If he can close out the season at the same pace he will have his best chance ever at a title.
Marco Eguchi on 1602 Southern Style:
Southern Style has been ridden in three of his last four outs. He’s one of the better veteran bulls in this round, and Eguchi should be able to pick up a score here.