CAIRNS, Australia – Keyshawn Whitehorse got the tune-up he wanted ahead of next weekend’s Sydney Global Cup.
The Team USA rider won the 15th annual J.W. Hart PBR Challenge on Saturday night in Decatur, Texas, with an 87.5-point ride on Desperado in the championship round.
Whitehorse was the only rider to convert in the championship round and finished the evening 2-for-2 after riding Pick-Up Man for 85.5 points in Round 1.
“It was something that I was looking forward to. Very much. This is a big win for me. Coming into this event, an ABBI event with great bulls and great riders. Not only that, but the weather. It was like 104 degrees out here. It was tough weather. The sun was shining and there was no wind. I had to keep my mentality strong and I knew walking into this event that was going to be a big thing if I was going to withstand the heat.”
The 20-year-old then had the opportunity to take on Seven Dust for an additional $50,000 payday, but the leading contender for the 2018 PBR Rookie of the Year award was bucked off in roughly 3.5 seconds.
“Honesty, I felt really good on him,” Whitehorse said. “I felt like I wasn’t in bad position. I felt I was where I needed to be. The jump right before he turned back, he had a lot of dust on him. I couldn’t see. He whipped some dirt in my eye and I couldn’t see around the corner. I didn’t feel bad and I am not one to make excuses, but I was like I don’t even know what to do right now.”
Seven Dust was marked an unofficial 46 points in the exhibition matchup.
The Jane Clark bovine superstar made a forceful jump out of the chute and then went left to dispatch the young rising star.
“Keyshawn tried him,” Owen said. “Seven didn’t go to Las Vegas in May, so he had some time off. He was really fresh and the heat didn’t bother him.”
Whitehorse flies to Sydney on Monday evening.
Team USA coach Justin McBride currently has Whitehorse listed as an alternate for the Global Cup, but he can decide to swap Whitehorse into his lineup before the event starts if he so chooses or if a rider is injured during the first night of competition.
The defending Global Cup champions are bringing a loaded roster to Sydney and featuring reigning World Champion Jess Lockwood, 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis, No. 4 Cody Nance, No. 15 Brennon Eldred, No. 17 Stetson Lawrence, No. 20 Derek Kolbaba and No. 55 Matt Triplett.
“I have a lot of confidence after this,” Whitehorse said. Even more so than before. Going into Global Cup as an alternate. I am here to learn and be around World Champion bull riders. I just want to really enjoy the experience. If I get to ride, then that is awesome. Then if I don’t I am learning no matter what. It is a pleasure just being there.
“Whatever coach Justin McBride's decision is, that is what I am going to agree with. He is a World Champion and a legendary bull rider for a reason.”
Whitehorse earned 60 points toward the world standings with the victory and is ranked 14th in the world standings. He is 23-for-54 (42.6 percent) at all levels of PBR competition.
J.W. Hart said via text message that Whitehorse “looked really good.”
Fans can watch all of the Sydney Global Cup exclusively on RidePass beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET on June 9.
Koal Livingston finished in second place for 30 world points after winning Round 1 with 89 points on Big City.
Valdiron de Oliveira (1-for-2, 87.5-point ride on The King), Fabiano Vieira (1-for-2, 84-point ride on Gin Palace) and three-time World Champion Silvano Alves (1-for-2, 83.5-point ride on AMS 40B) rounded out the Top 5.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.