Regular followers of Ride the Rage would know that I am off to Las Vegas, Nevada tomorrow morning for my 8th PBR Finals Week. If you are a fan of bull riding and bucking bulls, it is something I would recommend you do at least once in your lifetime.
Here is a rundown of the events that make up the week, so you know what to expect to see on Ride the Rage over the next week and a half.
2019 PBR Pendleton Whiskey Velocity Tour Finals
PBR Finals Week kicks off at the SouthPoint Arena inside the SouthPoint Hotel, Casino and Spa with the Velocity Tour Finals. The two long rounds of competition will be held on 2-3 November with two a Championship Round scheduled on Sunday afternoon. The Velocity Tour Finals qualifiers will take on some of the best bulls from the ABBI Classic Wildcard and Derby (three and four-year-old) competitions.
The winner of the Velocity Tour Finals, the runner-up, and the top finishing international athlete will qualify to take part in the PBR World Finals later in the week, so there is plenty on the line for both bulls and riders. Top 2 in Velocity Standings will also progress to T-Mobile Arena to make up the 40-rider field.
Moura’s Lawson Nobbs has qualified for the Velocity Tour Finals courtesy of his strong start to the season in the USA which featured a win at the three-day event in Bangor, ME.
Mundubbera’s Lane Mellers will fill the PBR Australia invite slot.
2019 ABBI Bucking Bull Finals
The ABBI Finals will continue throughout the week inside the SouthPoint Arena with Yearling (one-year-old), Futurity, Limited Futurity, Cowgirls and Junior competitions (two-year-old) taking place between 6-10 November.
Supporting these events will be Cocktail Parties, Sales and Auctions, Award Dinners and the UBHA Bucking Horse Finals.
2019 PBR Monster Energy World Finals
Then it is time for the big one! The 2019 PBR World Finals, held at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip for five nights from the 7-11 November.
All performances kick off with live concerts (including our own Casey Barnes) and entertainment in the party zone outside T-Mobile arena. After-parties are held along the Las Vegas strip each night giving fans a chance to socialise with riders and like-minded fans.
Wednesday Night the best riders in the world will face off with the best three and four-year-old in ABBI competition. This round will also double as Round 1 of the ABBI Classic World Finals championship. Past champions of this competition include Bushwacker (2010), Shepherd Hills Tested (2012) and the reigning World Champion Bucking Bull of the Year SweetPro’s Bruiser (2015). We can expect to see riding percentages of around 30% on Night 1.
Thursday will feature the rank pen. This round is where we will see World Champion Bucking Bull contenders have their first out of the finals. Can SweetPro’s Bruiser make it four-straight? Or will we see a new champion crowned? With bulls such as Smooth Operator, Smooth Wreck and Fearless all averaging 45+ point bull scores this year it is sure to be an exciting night. We usually see around a quarter of the bulls covered with ride scores and bull scores pushed to their limits.
Historically, the Friday night bullpen contains a lot of bulls that I would classify as rider-friendly and well-known. This round is traditionally a draft round which means they can ride a lot of bulls on Friday night. In 2016 and 2017 they produced a qualified ride percentage upwards of 40%, and in 2018 they rode 52.5%.
The ABBI Classic bulls from Night 1 come back for their second and final round. Expect to see riding percentages between 25-30%. Previously this night has featured a mixed pen of 25 Classic bulls and the 15 good draws, but this year I hear all ABBI Classic competitors will be back for a second trip.
Round 5 and Championship Round
Championship Sunday! It is easily the best single-day line-up of the year, and we get to crown our Champions!
With the bullpen we are likely to see for Round 5 and the short go, this will be an epic day of bull riding. Riding percentages for the long round are usually around the 30% mark.
The Top-15 bulls in the world await the Top-15 riders in the aggregate for the short round. All of the Bucking Bull of the Year contenders will have their second trip in this round.
Riders covered just one bull in 2015. They covered four bulls last season and have covered as many as six bulls in 2013. Judging by the 15/15 Bucking Battle results from this year, I think they will ride five or six with some huge scores recorded.
During the week there are also the Chris Shivers Mini Bull Riders World Finals and the Shorty Gorham American Freestyle Bull Fighting World Finals at the SouthPoint Arena. The PBR Heroes & Legends Celebration will take place in the SouthPoint Ballroom on 6 November.
There are also several charity events including the Western Sports Foundation Women’s Breakfast, Matt West’s ‘Rigged’ Cornhole Tournament, the PBR Charity Golf Classic and Western Sports Foundation Charity Clay Shoot.
The Fan Zone will also be open all week at the SouthPoint Hotel Casino and Spa with shopping, PBR Rider autographs, displays from PBR Sponsors, and Talk Shows. You can also buy tickets to tour T-Mobile arena and the bucking bull housing during the week.
*All dates and times mentioned in this article are local Las Vegas times. Check out the latest PBR Rundown for all the Australian timings.