In opposition to the bareback riding, the saddle bronc riding will likely see the money spread out more evenly from top to bottom.

“This is the toughest one for me to pick. You’ve got the Wrights, Cody, Jesse and Jake. And I want to pick Wade Sundell, but he’s quite a ways back. If he was a little closer, I think I’d pick him, but I’m just not sure. He had to go home after Cheyenne so he spotted them a lot of money. I watched Taos Muncy all fall and I think he’s riding as good as he’s ever ridden. It’s a roll of the dice. It’s going to be a competitive event. So many guys are riding good, no one is going to walk in there and dominate.

Nonetheless, many of the same players were in attendance last year. Jesse Wright managed to hold on to his world standings lead despite hard-charging performances from both Cody DeMoss and his older brother, Cody Wright. While DeMoss didn’t qualify this year, Cody Wright did, as well as Jesse’s twin, Jake.

However, considering Jesse’s track record at the NFR in only two trips, betting against him seems foolhardy, but ignoring the field is just as dangerous. That said, only one man can wear the buckle at the end of the 10 days.

“It’s not like I’m going way out on a limb, but I better go with Jesse Wright,” Knowles said.