The Morning Line – Lethbridge
By: Ted Stovin Thursday, July 23, 2020 @ 9:12 AM
LETHBRIDGE, Alberta – After over 120 days, we are back!
As I started to write this edition of The Morning Line, I found one that never ended up being published. I ended up getting on a plane headed to Regina on March 14 until PBR Production Manager Peter Gebraad called me moments before the doors closed and I jumped off and stayed home since the event was postponed, and inevitably cancelled.
What a ride the past four months have been.
It’s been a lot of home-cooking, zero hotels, zero planes, not very many miles and more golf than ever before in a summer.
Some of that has been nice, some of it has sucked, but I’m dang sure ready to be back at a bull riding and couldn’t be prouder to be part of the PBR Canada team bringing professional bull riding back to Canadian soil.
Today we’ll see two events in the same day, the first, the PBR Cooper Tires Invitational, starting at 1:00 p.m. MT and the second, the PBR Built Ford Tough Invitational, at 7:00 p.m. There’s $10,000 up per event with 25 riders competing in each. After all ride in Round 1, 10 will advance to the championship round in each performance.
In the matinee we get a warm-up that could easily see numerous high scores, and in the marquee, we get a hot pen of short-round bulls in World Finals selections Catch My Drift, Happy Camper, Finning Lil Shorty and Tykro Pound Sand.
With no fans in attendance in the arena, this brings us back to the essence of the sport -- taming the beast. With this sport it doesn’t matter who’s there, what’s going on in the venue or even where you are, you’ve still got to ride the bull that’s under you. I think one thing this event will showcase is how much these guys cheer each other on. The bull riders aren’t on teams like the other pro sports, but will still make some noise when their buddies make rank bull rides.
I’ll be right there cheering through my mask on Thursday, as glad as ever to be part of this incredible sport.
PBR Cooper Tires Invitational – July 23rd – 1:00 p.m. MT
Jordan Hansen vs. 55 OMB Legal Issues
What a matchup. Right off the bat we’re bound to get a qualified ride with these two set to dance. OMB Legal Issues, for those that don’t know, stands for “Origin Malting and Brewing’s Legal Issues.” Legal Issues is a beer of theirs, I’ve had it, but don’t remember what it’s like. If you’re curious you can ask contractor Slim Wilson about it though as he’s pals with those guys in Strathmore. Go test one out sometime and let them know you heard about it from a bull!
Anyway, Jordan is one of the best ever from Canada, already with two Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifications to his credit. If there’s ever a guy to bet on to get it done it is Jordan. Doing my research on this bull it led me to a video of Hansen’s now brother-in-law, Lonnie West riding this bull for a big score last summer in Coronation. Hansen married West’s sister Sara on July 11, a couple months after when the original wedding was supposed to take place.
This bull has been ridden about half the time, has plenty of up-and-down, but will match-up nicely with Jordan for a score north of 85.5 points.
Brock Radford vs. 747 Off The Grid
The first thing I thought of in this matchup was how it would be odd for a 747 to end up off the grid. From the Carlier’s X6 Ranch in Medicine Hat, I don’t know anything about this bull so I’m not going to bullshit you. What I do know is that in PBR Canada competition so far in 2020, Radford ranks No. 2, only 100.5 points back of No. 1 Dakota Buttar. Radford has been the bridesmaid long enough, but he’s going to have an epic battle with Buttar for this year’s title.
Dakota Buttar vs. 631 Trippy Hippy
Another bull I don’t know much about. What I do know is that Trippy Hippy comes from fellow bull rider Shay Marks who’s been in the bull business a long time considering he’s only in his mid-20’s. Buttar is perfect on the season so far and I expect him to keep that rolling in the PBR Cooper Tires Invitational. He won in Lethbridge back in March and in Calgary in January. Why not keep that rolling? He’s already off to the best start ever, this will only help him continue on that trend. With 10 qualified rides in a row, he only needs two more to set an all-time record in PBR Canada competition.
Jake Gardner vs. 410 Playing Chicken
Gardner is the reigning All-Around Champion of Canada in the rodeo world and the current No. 12 man in the PBR Canada ranks. Playing Chicken from Vold Rodeo of Ponoka has been ridden seven times in 25 outs. Mostly recently hometown man Dayton Johnston took the black, flat-horned bull to an 85 in this same building at the last PBR event held on Canadian soil back in March. Scores have been as high as 89.5 points on this bovine and he looks pretty ideal for a right hander. Advantage Gardner here.
PBR Built Ford Tough Invitational – July 23rd – 7:00 p.m. MT
Brock Radford vs. 529 Jappy Feeling Dangerous
From the Wild Hoggs, Jappy Feeling Dangerous used to be known as Catch of the Day at the start of 2019. So far, this bull has been ridden six times in 15 outs on record. Last fall, Jordan Hansen was 84 points on him in Edmonton, and Dakota Buttar rode him for an 87.5-point score in Falher. A white bull with a few black spots and horns, he went left in the only video I saw of him. That should be advantage Brock. Now he’s not a guy I’m concerned about, but we may see who’s in riding shape right now and who ate a few too many cheeseburgers over quarantine with a potential of four bulls to ride in one day.
Dayton Johnston vs. 40 Snap Shot
I mentioned Dayton earlier as he rode Playing Chicken here in Lethbridge back in March. This event will be tough on this guy not having the hometown crowd in the house, but in their cars out in the parking lot. Hopefully there is plenty of air in the horns. Snap Shot from the Skori’s has been tamed seven times in 16 attempts, ridden more often by left-handers than righties (5-2). In the two videos I watched though, he went right with the righty and left with the lefty.
Lonnie West vs. 434 Crank-It-Up
If you can call a bull little, this one is definitely on the smaller side of things for an animal that in this sport still weighs six to 14 times more than the average human. Crank-It-Up from the Eno’s has been ridden four times in 14 outs, but had three chute re-ride incidents. As one tell on how small this bull is, Jared Parsonage, a guy who rides more than he gets bucked off of, has been thrown twice. Scores on this black, white-faced bull have been as high as 85.5 points. He’s been in the gate around to the right, out of the right in all the film I watched. I like the way Lonnie rides and hope he gets the job done.
Jordan Hansen vs. B73 Gundo
B73 was the number on PBR World Finals athlete Buck Wild from North Dakota’s Shane Gunderson. This B73 is out of Buck Wild and a half-sister to Two Bit’s superstar Happy Camper. When asked by PBR Canada’s Jason Davidson what this bull’s name was, the general consensus at the Two Bit Ranch in Magrath was that the bull’s name wouldn’t be just “Shane,” but Gunderson’s nickname of “Gundo.” Hansen will be a proper match for the three-year-old ranch-raised bull, this is a veteran bull rider going up against a rookie bull. Who will prevail? A veteran ride or rookie bull stealing the show?
Jared Parsonage vs. 504 Sick Rhymes
Now a five-year-old, Sick Rhymes, also from the Two Bit Ranch, was ridden by Jordan Hansen for 83 points on the way to his win in Calgary in 2019 on the Monster Energy Tour. On record there haven’t been any others to make the whistle in 14 trips. As traveling partners, Hansen may have a thing or two for the No. 3 man in the PBR Canada National Standings, 111 points back of No. 1. Also getting married later this year, Parsonage won $10,000 in a team roping the other day.
Dakota Buttar vs. 605W Finning Drop Bear
According to Tanner Byrne of Flying Four Bucking Bulls, there’s a story in Australia about “Drop Bears” that are bad Koala’s that drop out of trees and attack you. It’s an alleged myth that had Brock Radford on edge his entire trip apparently. Anyway, now a bull with a great name, Drop Finning Bear is a four-year-old big, stout, red-and-white spot with lots of up-anddown that’ll go either way. Yet to be ridden according to the stats, this could change tonight. Byrne has the two pegged at 88 points.
Tickets are still available for the PBR Canada Monster Energy Tour LIVE: Drive-In Spectacular and can be purchased here.
Fans can also tune-in to all the action LIVE on RidePass. Coverage of the PBR Cooper Tires Invitational will begin at 1:00 p.m.MT, followed by the PBR Built Ford Tough Invitational at 7:00 p.m. MT.
Follow Ted Stovin on Twitter @TedStovin.