Kimzey And Vastbinder Prepare For Battle At The CBR Season Finale

Courtesy of CBR- Todd Brewer kimzey_web_2.jpg

DEL RIO, Texas -- In high-stakes sporting events the athletes have to be able to perform under pressure. With 39 years in the record books, the George Paul Memorial Bull Riding (GPMBR) never disappoints, and with only 180.5 points, or two good bull rides, separating the No. 1 and 2 riders in the World, 2017 will be no different. As the last stop on the CBR's regular season televised tour schedule, the GPMBR is the final frontier for points for the elite cowboy athletes to qualify for the CBR World Finals. The two-performance event is scheduled to begin at 8 PM on April 28-29 at the Val Verde Fairgrounds.

The George Paul is famous for many things, the Ramada Hotel Pool Party, the outstanding bulls lined up by Tuff Hedeman, and a Friday night bounty bull matchup that will give one bull rider the opportunity to win a Ram Country Dodge Truck -- courtesy of the GPMBR, the CBR, and Ram Country Dodge of Del Rio. But after all the ceremonies and grand introductions are finished, it is the bull riding competition that keeps the legend alive.

The battle on everyone's mind is between two veteran tour riders, the reigning CBR world champion, Sage Steele Kimzey, and the contender, Eli Vastbinder.  Kimzey, a five-time world champion, comes into the competition riding 26 of the 32 bulls he attempted in 12 events during the regular season. Riding in his fourth CBR season, he won Window Rock and Enid event titles and out of 12 events he advanced to the Shoot Out round eight times. Hot on his heels is Vastbinder, a seven-year veteran of CBR competition and last year a rider who rode four of five at the CBR World Finals to finish second in the average. Vastbinder is from Statesville, NC, and has ridden an impressive 25 of 33 bulls attempted in 14 tour stops. Vastbinder won the Laughlin event title and advanced to the Shoot Out round seven times during this his statistically best season on the Road to Cheyenne.

Kimzey leads the list of 24 elite bull riders headed to Del Rio to jockey for position on the CBR roster, which determines a qualifying spot on the CBR World Finals roster. But at this stage in the game Vastbinder knows the goal, and as much as both would like to pack the coveted Del Rio GPMBR buckle in their rigging bags, riding each bull is as important to gain the points for the lead of the CBR world standings. The 23-year old Kimzey, who recently won the American competition that came with a $433,333 check, has earned over $2 million doing what he says has always been his dream.


Although Kimzey and Vastbinder are at the top, right behind them is rookie rider Boudreaux Campbell, who won Hobbs and is still in the hunt as the CBR's No. 3 gunner in his first year as a pro bull rider. National Finals Rodeo qualifier Jeff Askey sits fourth in his first year of CBR competition. Three world champions are headed to Del Rio, joined by two-time GPBR champion Trey Benton of Rock Island, who made a strong comeback last week in Fort Worth and advanced to the final four-man round in his first CBR since Del Rio 2016.

While the 2017 regular season appears to be headed to another noteworthy finish, the legend started with George Paul himself, the 1968 Rodeo Cowboys Association (now the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) world champion, and NFR winner who died in a plane crash in 1970. Ten years after his death, his brother, Bobby Paul, began producing the George Paul Memorial Bull Riding to memorialize the talented bull rider, who eight-time world champion Don Gay described as the greatest ever after riding 79 bulls consecutively, a world record.

Tickets are on sale for the two nights of competition, which starts with 40 riders on Friday. Saturday night's performance will feature the CBR's proprietary tournament style format with 24 riders taking the dirt. The best 12 from round one will advance to the semifinals with the top four then competing in the Shoot Out round where the bulk of $30,000 prize monies will be paid. Friday night will see the bull rider with the highest score pit his skill against a bounty bull selected by Hedeman for the chance to win a new truck.

The CBR Road to Cheyenne Tour will end in Wyoming on July 24-25 at the historic Cheyenne Frontier Days, where the CBR world champion will be crowned. Along with the title, championship buckle, and awards, the winner will earn a $100,000 bonus.

The George Paul Memorial is also part of the CBR Bull Team Challenge. Bull owners bring three bulls as part of the Super Bull competition and the team with the highest total score this year will receive double the prize money this year, earning a $40,000 cash prize on Saturday night with $90,000 in total payout to the top teams. The winning team will also leave Del Rio in a new Ram 2500 Super Bull Truck. In addition, the winning bull team will receive a custom saddle from Juan Jose Mundoz Andrade, a Hyo Silver trophy buckle ,and custom Fenoglio boots.

With 39 years of history and over $200,000 in cash and prizes to be awarded, the competition promises to live up to the old school "Super Bull" title that was associated with this bull riding classic.

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