PUEBLO, Colo. - An already deep field of bull riders competing
at Touring Pro Division events will become even more competitive
beginning this weekend.
Veteran riders like Sean Willingham, Skeeter Kingsolver and Ben Jones were cut from the Built Ford Tough Series earlier this year. They were later joined by Shane Proctor, Ryan McConnel and Reese Cates.
Colby Yates, Cody Campbell and Travis Briscoe are also among the riders who have been trying to work their way back to the BFTS.
This weekend, former World Champion Mike Lee and current No. 2 L.J. Jenkins will be among those competing in Texas with Austin Meier, Stormy Wing and others.
Shane Proctor struggled in his return to the Built Ford Tough Series, after breaking an arm at the National Finals Rodeo and winning the PRCA world championship. He'll be on the road this summer to work his way back on to the BFTS.
"From the break here in Pueblo until we start back in August,
that's when all those Touring Pros happen," said the PBR's Senior
Vice President of Competition Jay Daugherty.
"That's when those guys know they can get the talent."
There will be nearly 90 events in the United States and abroad before Aug. 10, when the BFTS resumes in Tulsa, Okla.
In the U.S. alone there are 39 TPD events on the schedule, with another 35 events taking place in Brazil, including a series of three Iron Cowboy events in June, July and August. Australia and Canada will host more than a dozen combined, including the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede.
The Stampede will be headlined by Jenkins, J.B. Mauney, Meier, Robson Palermo, Fabiano Vieira, Luke Snyder, Proctor, Aaron Roy, Caleb Sanderson and McConnel.
'The idea was not only to help tighten the
competitive field for the Built Ford Tough Series, but it's going
to help the Touring Pros. It's going to take a lot more money, a
lot more points and a lot more effort to get back to the Built Ford
Sanderson is a late replacement for Valdiron de Oliveira.
Oliveira is returning to Brazil this week. However, he indicated that he'll come back to the U.S. in late July to compete at a few TPD events leading up to his return to the BFTS.
Daugherty said with riders like Oliveira and Jenkins in the draws, promoters of TPD events are able to sell more tickets.
Among the promoters with TPD events this summer are world-renowned stock contractors Jeff Robinson and Chad Berger. Robinson is promoting more than a half-dozen events from coast to coast, while Berger is hosting his famous annual event in Bismarck, N.D.
Lucas Oil and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are two PBR sponsors with multiple TPD events.
Robson Palermo will add some Brazilian spice to the world famous Calgary Stampede this summer.
"Overall, it's a benefit," Daugherty said. "That helps them
promote those events with those name guys there, but it also gives
the younger guys a chance to compete against the guys they've
always looked up to."
The summer months are a real measuring stick for the riders who have been cut, to see how they compete against some of the top-ranked riders. Young up-and-coming riders get to establish themselves among their peers.
Chase Outlaw and Lachlan Richardson, who won his first BFTS event in Uncasville, Conn., are among the rookie riders to have had success on both levels, while other 18- and 19-year-olds are hoping to put themselves in position to make debuts later this season.
There are 18 TPD events between now and the end of June, and another 15 in the U.S. during the month of July - most of which are during the week of the Fourth.
Now that the BFTS draw is paired down to the Top 35, more riders are competing this summer.
The top money earners from the TPD to land a spot in the BFTS - Chad Besplug, Markus Mariluch, Nathan Schapper, Billy Robinson and Richardson - needed more than $18,000 to make the cut. That figure could double by the end of summer.
And riders everywhere will be eyeing the qualifier standings for the World Finals.
Currently, Rubens Barbosa is 35th, with just under $29,000. It could take anywhere from $55,000 to $60,000 to qualify for the Finals.
"The idea was not only to help tighten the competitive field for the Built Ford Tough Series, but it's going to help the Touring Pros. It's going to take a lot more money, a lot more points and a lot more effort to get back to the Built Ford Tough Series."
A complete list of TPD events in the U.S. can be found here.
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