PENDLETON - Cauy Hudson of Elm Creek, Neb., couldn't have picked a better time to turn in a pair of solid bull rides Monday.
Needing to make a push in the Challenger Tour standings, Hudson took the overall lead after the first round in the U.S. Bank/Pendleton Professional Bull Riding Classic held at the Happy Canyon Arena with a combined score of 172.5 points.
"This feels real good because I'm on the bubble for making the tour finals, and this helps get me up there," Hudson said.
Hudson rode Pork Chop for 83.5 points in the main round, qualifying as one of 10 riders that rode in the championship finals. The final round produced five rides over 85, with Hudson riding for 89 on Broken Bone.
"I've never been on either one of those bulls," Hudson said. "They both rode well, and gave some points."
Hudson will have to wait until after tonight's round that starts at 8 p.m. to see if his combined score will hold for first place. Forty-five new riders will compete, and the best overall score of the event will be crowned champion.
"I sure hope my score holds," Hudson said. "I have a lot of friends that will ride (today), and there are some good riders left."
Paulo Crimber of Fort Worth, Texas, scored the best ride of the day in the championship round with an 89.5 on Full Throttle.
"That bull felt good," said Crimber of Full Throttle. "I was just trying to do my job and stay on him."
Crimber, who sits in sixth place in the Challenger Tour standings, rode for an 82.5 on Open Hear in the main round to earn a spot in the finals.
"I really hope my score will stay in the top five," Crimber said. "This year has gone well for me and it's nice to have a little luck."
After 45 bullride attempts in the main round, Chance Robinson of Colorado City, Colo., and Fabricio Alves of Fort Worth, Texas, shared the lead with 84.5-point rides.
Robinson rode Blue Velvet for 86 points in the final round for fourth place overall, and Alves was bucked off in the finals.
Forty-one-year-old Gary Richard of Houston, Texas, placed third overall with an 84 on Willy Wonka in the main round and an 87.5 ride on Sky High Who in the championship round.
"He jumped out and went round to the right and made a few rounds," said Richard of his ride on Willy Wonka. "I just wanted to stay down and stay focused and make sure I make a good bull ride."
Oklahoma cowboy Corey Navarre rode Money Bags in the main round for 81.5 and held on for 86.5 points in the finals for fifth overall. Navarre is in 44th place and Chance Robinson is in 45th place in the Challenger Tour standings.
Marchi Guilherme (83) and Rogerio Ferreira (82.5) both of Keller, Texas, along with Jed Ward (83) Newton, Kan., and B.J. Kramps of Crooked Creek, Alberta, qualified for the final round, but were all thrown off before the eight-second buzzer.