“Dream Come True” Opportunity for Red Deer Winner Jake Gardner in Unleash The Beast Debut

By: Covy Moore  Wednesday, February 14, 2024 @ 11:52 AM

Jake Gardner made his PBR Unleash The Beast debut in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media.

AIRDRIE, Alta. – Jake Gardner called his shot in Red Deer, Alberta.

After winning the Cup Series event in Red Deer in 2022, and having plenty of experience inside Peavey Mart Centrium, Gardner showed up with confidence as the 2024 campaign for the premier Cup Series got underway.

His 2-for-2 effort, punctuated with a dominant, 87-point ride on Broken Pearl, sealed him the win at the season-launch Major.

Looking back, Gardner admits that Peavey Mart Centrium is one of his favourite buildings on the PBR Canada Cup Series schedule.

“Red Deer was the first professional bull riding back when it was a CPRA bull riding,” Gardner recalled. “I remember being young and not doing good. You leave and you want to do better. I just built off that. Being at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) there a bunch of times, I was actually the first bull rider to get one rode at CFR in Red Deer in that building. That is kind of cool.”

“It’s one of those buildings I feel really comfortable in. I like the people in Red Deer, they are just good fans, and they really get into it. I like putting on a show in Red Deer.”

In 2024, PBR Canada added two Majors to the schedule, offering riders both an increased payout and national points. Red Deer marked the first Major.

While Gardner was unaware the Red Deer event had higher point payouts, he says that type of initiative is just another way that PBR Canada is helping riders prioritize their planning throughout their year. 

“I didn’t realize that it was a Major, but they are vital. Especially for a guy that is working both sides of the border. I am down here rodeoing all winter. Just be able to go up to one and get that many points, it helps me out, and helps me come back down here without worrying about things up there.”

“That is my goal, to be going to these Cup events and do my job properly, get as many points as I can,” Gardner added. “When I can, I will pop into a couple Touring Pros, but being at these Cup Series events, it’s really great. You can go down South and manage other events all well.”

With his win in Red Deer, Gardner earned two berths to the premier PBR Unleash The Beast, with the first being this past weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Getting one bull rode, but falling just short of stealing additional points, Gardner says the opportunity is a dream come true.

“Growing up, at 7 or 8 years old, being a young kid, they used to have the PBR Versus on OLN, and I remember watching those events with my dad, and saying ‘Dad, one day I am going to be there.’ I always knew I would get to that level, I just didn’t know when it was going to happen. It came together and it was a dream come true for me. I didn’t have the success I wanted to have at my first event, but I got one rode and got that monkey off my back.”

“I felt comfortable down there, the guys in the locker room are really friendly, it is just a good atmosphere to be involved in,” Gardner continued. “It’s next level being there. The atmosphere is intense. It was similar to being at the Global Cup. The Global Cup is one of the coolest events I have ever been to. It reminded me of that. I thrive in those atmospheres, it’s rock and roll and the crowd is on top of you. I am excited to get to go to a few more of those events and try to get on tour.”

Gardner has never hidden his goals within bull riding, as his eyes are currently set on a berth at the National Finals Rodeo.

But admittedly with opportunities such as his Unleash The Beast chances, next to the split season the PBR offers between the individual season and PBR Teams, he said he is ready to go after qualifying for the PBR World Finals.

“The priorities are still on those yellow bucking chutes,” Gardner said. “But I have always wanted to make the PBR World Finals, at least a few times. I knew if I can get on a bit of a roll, stuff can happen. I am going to keep going to these events and doing my job properly. I want to make it to the World Finals in May. I am going to try and do that.” 

“I am just going with the flow. I am really enjoying bull riding right now. I am having a blast. I am not too worried. Just keep getting on bulls and see where it takes me.”

In addition to a PBR World Finals push, the PBR is full of opportunities for bull riders. With the PBR Camping World Team Series season on the near horizon, Gardner said he wouldn’t be opposed to taking up a team opportunity, if the right deal was presented to him.

“If somebody is going to own me, they are going to have to come at me with a good offer. I feel like that is why I like the rodeo end of things, it’s my business, I do what I want to do, I go where I want. It would have to be the right fit, I am surely not opposed to it.”

“I would love to get on one of those teams,” Garnder concluded. “I would be a very good tool for any team, especially those right-handed bulls. If the right people approach me with the right kind of money involved, I would definitely be interested in transitioning into that type of thing. Nick Tetz really opened the door for a lot of Canadians going down there, he did a great job.”

“He showed them that us Canadians are tough. If the right cards fall on the table, I am open to it.”