Callum Miller Rides to Career-Best Unleash The Beast Finish at Major in Sacramento, California
By: Covy Moore Wednesday, February 7, 2024 @ 3:19 PM
AIRDRIE, Alta. – Callum Miller, a frequent presence in Canadian competition by way of Australia, locked himself into the Top 30 of the Unleash The Beast standings with a close-to-perfect, third-place finish at the premier series’ Major in Sacramento, California, last weekend.
“The job is not done,” Miller said of his attitude throughout the weekend that saw him going 3-for-3 to lead the event entering the event’s championship round.
Hot off the event win at the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour stop in Reno, Nevada, Miller earned a two-event promotion to compete on the premier Unleash The Beast. His first event didn’t go his way, shutout in Houston, Texas, but staying positive and believing in his ability was all that he needed to push into Sacramento with force.
While the tour stops in Houston and Sacramento were his first on the “big” tour, Miller said he didn’t want to get too worked up over it, and this past weekend he felt at home in the dressing room inside Golden 1 Center.
“I feel like I just took it as a normal bull riding, not much different than the big ones in Canada,” Miller explained. “Just some new guys in the dressing shed. I didn’t feel too out of joint.”
“Going into this weekend, I was probably even more relaxed in the dressing room, especially seeing ole [Nick] Tetz down there. Just another familiar face.”
The three-day Unleash The Beast Major, which awarded $100,000 to the winner, began for Miller with a tough matchup with Lone Star. Despite making the 8, Miller was only awarded 61.25 points due to the bull’s lackluster performance. Electing to take his re-ride on Trump Train, Miller got the job done on the right-hand spinner for 86.5 points, climbing to fourth on the event leaderboard.
“I felt pretty good. The very first one shitted off on me, which wasn’t great. Then my hand hung in the rope, so I was hung upside down on him for a couple jumps,” Miller laughed.
“He is a good bull I have seen a lot of guys get along with,” Miller added of his re-ride draw Trump Train. “He was out of the right, so I was feeling pretty confident. It always seems to work getting on re-ride bulls back-to-back like that. You are already warm, got the jitters and whatever else out on that first one. It felt really good.”
Following his new mantra of not getting too worked up, he had a quiet night and kept the attitude that the job is not done yet.
The following day, he drew California Hearthrob, converting for 85.75 points. While the score was the sixth-best of the round, the ride catapulted him to the event lead.
Knowing that he still needed to get two more bulls ridden on Championship Sunday, Miller remained focused.
“The main thing I kept saying to myself was that the job is not done. I had to go out and get that third one rode, and then I could figure out what was in the short round.”
“I wanted to go on a gut feeling for my pick,” Miller continued. “Wait till the end, don't think I would be in the top spot.”
But Miller would have the top pick in the championship round. Via an 85.25-point ride on Sharp Shooter in Round 3, Miller remained atop the Major leaderboard.
With the first selection, Miller chose Manaba. His strategy wasn’t picking the weak ones in the pen, but to choose a bull that fit both the style he had been riding that weekend, and one he could win the round on.
"I figured he would suit me, and if I could have gotten him ridden I could have been high 80s, into the 90s. Most of the time he would be around there to the right, right into my hand. Figured I would go with what was working.”
The matchup with Manaba didn’t work out for the Aussie, however, as the bull got the best of him at the 2.2-second mark.
Looking back, Miller knows what he could have done differently. Miller even protested the buck off, challenging the call after his fellow competitors urged him to press the challenge button, believing the bull had hipped himself.
“Looking back at it, my first thought when he bucked me off was that I was thinking too much about what I needed to do to get him rode. I thought he would be a little stronger, and a little heavier. But I should have been trusting my gut and trusting my own ability. Not thought about it, do it, react.”
“Really looking at the technical side, I could have been a little more square leaving the chutes,” Miller continued. “I did hit the button for a review, I wasn’t sure what I was reviewing, but all the guys on the back of the chutes were telling me to hit the button because he hipped himself. He definitely caught the chutes but not enough for a re-ride. It was an opportunity for $100,000, I would take the re-ride if I could get one. If it was deserved, I would get another one, because you can't pass up that opportunity.”
Garnering 115 Unleash The Beast points, Miller surged from unranked to No. 30 in the race for the 2024 PBR World Championship.
Now firmly in the Top 40 of the Unleash The Beast standings as the premier series heads to Salt Lake City, Utah, Miller will look to continue his climb up the standings when he takes on Cocky as the first rider out inside the Delta Center.
While there is a lot left to do as he works towards his first PBR World Finals qualifications, he says weekends like his one in California remind him of his ability at any level of bull riding.
Fielding supporting messages from his family, the Aussie is focused on rising higher in the point standings with more consistency, and belief in himself.
“I always like to talk to my mom and dad after the event. They won't call me during the event, they send messages to keep going, stay focused. It’s always good to hear from them. Everybody back home too.”
“I will be keeping a pretty similar thought process as I had going into the short round this weekend,” Miller concluded. “The job isn’t done yet. You have to keep consistent and keep showing up and believing in yourself."