Bull riders head to Star Center Saturday

After seven years of success as the New Mexico Stampede, organizers are stepping things up a notch at Santa Ana Star Center as they bring the Rodeo Construction Bucking on the Rio Grande bull riding to town Saturday.

Four-time World Champion bull rider Tuff Hedeman will be in town to oversee every detail of the two-hour, action-packed adrenaline-rush show, which is in Hobbs this weekend.

“I always thought and saw myself as a New Mexican because that’s where I was really born and raised and spent most of my time growing up,” Hedeman said. “We produce events all over the country, but being in New Mexico is special.”

Bucking on the Rio Grande is sanctioned by Championship Bull Riding, and is the sixth stop on the Road to Cheyenne Tour, which culminates with their World Finals in Wyoming in July.

The CBR’s competition starts with 24 riders; the top 12 from that group advance to a semifinal round with tougher bulls. The lion’s share of $30,000 in prize money will be paid in the shootout round, which features the best four riders of the night. The format appeals to new spectators and established fans alike, because riders challenge as many as three bulls in one performance.

“I really like this style of competition,” said Aaron Pass, from Mesquite, Texas, the current world standings leader. “It can be a test getting on three bulls in one night. But the CBR brings great bulls and that makes it fun for us.”

Along with Pass, expected contestants include reigning CBR World Champion Cole Echols from Elm Grove, La.; former champion Luke Kelly from Mount Vernon, Ill.; and three Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Champions J.W. Harris from Mullin, Texas, last year’s PBR Rookie of the Year; Cody Teel from Kountze, Texas, and Wesley Silcox from Santaquin, Utah.

In addition to lucrative prize money, bull riders accumulate points to qualify them for the World Finals, part of the legendary Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration. At the end of the World Finals, the contestant with the most points is crowned world champion and receives a $100,000 bonus.

This year’s tour includes stops from Jackson, Tenn., to Las Vegas, Nev., going east to west, and from Huron, S.D., to Del Rio, Texas, going north to south.

Bucking on the Rio Grande event is part of the CBR Million Dollar Bull Team Challenge. Bull owners will bring three bulls that are featured during the first two rounds of competition. Those bulls receive points for their performance in the arena. Additionally, the time the bull rider stays on is added to the bull’s score. At the end of the night, the owner with the three highest-scoring bulls will receive $25,000.

Following the action, Aaron Watson will perform live in concert. Watson recently released his new single, “That Look,” from his upcoming album, “The Underdog.”

Tickets are available through the Star Center’s ticket office.

Article: Rio Rancho Observer