For years, James Pope (J.P.) Cook wanted to join the Professional Bull Riders circuit.
Now that he finally meets the age requirement, the 18-year-old will get his chance to impress the local crowd.
Pope is one of 40 competitors in Saturday night’s Professional Bull Riders Touring Pro Division event, which begins at 8 p.m. at James Brown Arena. Tickets range from $18-22 for adults and are $10 for children 12 and under for sections 202, 203, 209 and 210 only.
“It’s going to be fun,” Cook said. “Every time I’ve watched it, I’ve wanted to do it even more.”
Cook turned 18 in June and bought his PBR membership. He said this will be his first PBR event of the year.
Cook plans to compete in as many PBR events as he can, in hopes of becoming the tour’s rookie of the year. In order for Cook to leap from the PBR’s Touring Pro Division to the premier Built Ford Tough Series, he’ll have to cut his teeth on the lower circuit and earn as much money as he can. Cook will get his chance to impress Saturday night.
The USC Aiken Benefit Bull Riding Championship features two-time PBR stock contractor of the year, Jeff Robinson of Mars Hill, N.C. He owns five of the top eight bulls that were in contention for the 2011 Bull of the Year, including Chicken on a Chain, VooDoo Child, Major Payne and Uncle Buck.
“I’m sure he’ll have some of the top bulls here,” event organizer Kenny Thomas said. “In the PBR, the bulls are as popular as the rider.”
Saturday night’s competition will also feature popular professional rodeo clown and barrel man Robbie Hodges. The Cave Spring, Ga. resident worked as the barrel man during the 2010 National Finals Rodeo.