It has been said that it's better to be lucky than good.
Brendon Clark is among the subscribers to that philosophy.
Clark, of Morpeth, Australia, did not initially qualify for this week's Professional Bull Riders World Finals, but he was awarded the final spot because of an injury that prevented Skeeter Kingsolver from competing.
Though Clark, 31, regretted that Kingsolver was unable to ride, he was thankful to be the first rider out of the gates Wednesday as the event opened at the Thomas & Mack Center.
"I was bummed about Skeeter," said Clark, who earned $49,338 in the regular season to finish 41st in the standings. "He's a friend of mine, and we're teammates. But he had shoulder surgery two or three months ago, and everyone knew he wasn't going to ride in the Finals."
But several other riders had a chance to grab the last of 40 spots, causing Clark to wait for results from an event in Columbus, Ohio, and another in Brazil.
"I didn't find out until 3 p.m. last Monday that I was in," Clark said. "It was kind of a stressful couple of days."
Clark, who is in his 12th year with the PBR, finished the regular season with one top-five finish and three top-10s through 15 events.
"I've had plenty of chances," he said. "But I didn't capitalize the way I was supposed to. I'm happy I made the Finals, but on the other hand I should have never put myself in that position."
Though Clark has seen better seasons, he said he still sees an opportunity to win money this week. "There have been years where I've had the Finals made by February," he said. "But it is what it is, and I'm just happy to be riding here."
Clark got off to a rough start Wednesday in Round 1, drawing Pure Smoke and lasting 2.31 seconds before being bucked off.
"My ride tonight was horrible," Clark said. "I knew the bull. I felt I had a really good chance of riding him. I made a slight little (technical) mistake, and on a bull that good you can't make mistakes."
Clark, who will get at least four more rides this week, said he hopes to represent his country well.
"There's a lot of national pride," said Clark, who is among a trio of Australians that includes Ben Jones and Pete Farley. "To have three guys from a country like ours is a big thing for us. It's a pretty proud moment to see it happen."
Clark, who has 10 rides in 41 attempts this season, said he expects to be ready for a rebound in today's competition.
"I've been bucked off my first one before," said Clark, who has competed in eight of the past nine Finals. "In the World Finals, you can't dwell on what's already happened. I'm confident about tomorrow."
Among the riders having a strong Round 1 was Caleb Sanderson. The native of Kissimmee, Fla., scored 88.5 points to win the round with an impressive ride.
"I just got a good bull," said Sanderson, who moved up to 25th in the season points standings. "I've seen him quite a bit, so it just worked out. I really didn't think I was going to win tonight. I thought I might finish third or fourth, but I just did my job and it panned out."
The top three riders heading into the night -- Silvano Alvez, Valdiron de Oliveira and Robson Palermo -- all were tossed from their bulls. Their misfortunes, however, did not affect the overall standings.
Competition will resume with Round 2 at 6 p.m. today.