DENVER – No matter where he looked inside the Denver Coliseum on Wednesday night there was a Built Ford Tough Series veteran bull rider somewhere in his vicinity.
Call it motivation.
Call it a reminder of how hard he needs to work to achieve his next goal in 2015.
But, regardless, Cooper Davis showed no signs of intimidation riding beside some of the biggest starts of the BFTS that took over the Touring Pro Division Finals, which ended Wednesday.
The 20-year-old rookie was able to cap his 3-for-3 performance with an 89-point ride on Dr. Lectere that would prove to be just enough to hold off three-time defending World Champion Silvano Alves for the Touring Pro Division Finals event title on the final night of the three-day event.
“Some of the best riders in the world are here,” Davis said. “Any time you can go with guys like Silvano Alves and J.B. Mauney, and those guys here, and you come out on top that is definitely a confidence booster and helps you get down the road and be confident for your next bull.”
Although, confidence didn’t seem to be an issue for Davis on Wednesday night despite being one of five riders competing in the championship round of the Finals that is not on his way to New York for this weekend’s Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden BFTS event.
He had previously ridden Little Tex for 85 points in the second round to bump his total ride score on two head to 164.5 points following a 79.5-point ride Monday night on Ho Ho Ho.
“My second bull today was a little tough to get by, but I stayed moving on him and I never quit,” Davis said.
Still, with six other veteran bull riders (Cody Nance, Valdiron de Oliveira, Fabiano Vieira, Alves, Tanner Byrne and Reese Cates) also entering the championship round 2-for-2, Davis was certainly not the favorite heading into the final round.
That was until he nodded his head aboard Dr. Lectere. Monty Samford’s bull left the out gate and broke right into Davis’ hand, letting the Wharton, Texas, cowboy do the rest of the work and jump into the event lead with 253.5 points.
“That bull normally comes out and goes to the left right there and he turned out backwards and went right,” Davis said. “He just felt good and I didn’t quit it. Right into the hand and I felt comfortable the whole time and I even left a few money chops go at the end.”
Three riders earlier, a jubilant Nance became the first rider to make the 8-second mark aboard Margy Time in 30 combined outs at all levels and was awarded 87 points. The ride brought back flashbacks of Nance’s effort on the bull during the Desert Showdown in Laughlin, Nevada, when the Paris, Tennessee, native was bucked off at 5.05 seconds.
Alves finished 3-for-3 and was the only remaining rider in the championship round to earn a qualified ride following Davis, picking up 86 points on Off the Hook.
However, his 251 total points was not enough to usurp Davis for the TPD Finals title.
Beyond the $22,378.90 Davis won, more importantly, he gained 110 points toward the world standings to move to 11th in the world (175 points), putting himself one step closer toward potentially earning a spot on the BFTS in February or March. He began the week 21st in the world standings.
Davis earned 80 points for the event win, while also picking up an additional 20 points for winning the championship round and 10 points for finishing the second round in third place.
He made his BFTS debut last year in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Jack Daniel’s Invitational and competed in two BFTS events, going 2-for-6.
“Last year showed me what I had to look forward to this year, and this year the ultimate goal is me being the Rookie of the Year; but I just have to get up there and continue to prove myself, ” Davis said.
If successful, it wouldn’t be the first time Davis was crowned a bull riding rookie of the year. In 2013, he was named the PRCA Rookie of the Year following his 4-for-10 performance at the National Finals Rodeo.
After spending the past few years seasoning his skills on the rodeo trail, Davis now says he is ready to pursue the PBR full time.
“I am confident right now in my abilities,” he concluded, “so we will see how it goes.”
World leaders Alves and Cates earn points in Denver
World leaders Silvano Alves and Reese Cates were two of 13 Built Ford Tough Series riders competing this weekend in New York that qualified for the final night of competition at the Touring Pro Division Finals.
Along with Alves and Cates, other Top 10 riders in the world standings that climbed aboard a bull Wednesday night included Chase Outlaw, Nance and Kaique Pacheco – who tied Timmy Vaughan for the long-round win with 88 points on Compact.
There were a total of 27 BFTS riders riding in New York that competed at some point during the three-day event.
2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney failed to ride his re-ride bull Monday night, but he did pocket $5,000 for riding bounty bull The Rocker on Tuesday night.
Alves and Cates earned points toward the world standings to pad their early-season leads. Alves has a total of 975 points this year, while Cates sits at 570 points.
A variety of riders noted that beyond the additional money at stake in Denver, there was also the desire to rack up some additional early season points in the world standings. The PBR competition committee added round points (20, 15, 10, 5) to the TPD Finals last week.
Nathan Schaper nearly rode Long John for the second time in his career, but he came down just shy of the 8-second mark (7.93 seconds).
The 24-year-old said earlier in the night that any opportunity to win extra cash and earn points toward the standings is worth taking at this point in the season when the majority of riders are still relatively healthy.
“It just depends on how healthy you are,” Schaper said. “If you are healthy, it is no big deal at all, but if you are hurting it kind of takes a toll on you. Everybody is still pretty healthy so it is really hard to pass this Denver up. It is a big PBR. You are going to get quite a few points to win this. That is why everybody is here. It does help to gather some more points.”
Valdiron de Oliviera bounced back from his left ankle injury in Chicago to ride Bone for 87.5 points in the long round on Monday night and earn 10 points.
“That first one was a pretty good ride,” Oliveira said. “Last year, I did not ride very good like this year. I need to keep focused this year and I came to win the world title this year. I want to work for that win this year. I need to keep my focus. The work, I don’t care. It don’t matter if the guys are young guys or old guys. I want to ride.”
He qualified for the championship round following his 64-point ride on Shake Down, but was bucked off by Savage in the final round. Ironically, Oliveira had ridden the same bull two nights earlier as a bounty bull for $5,000.
The 35-year-old added that his ankle is feeling much better this week after aggravating it during his 89-point ride on RMEF Big Bull in Chicago.
“I feel much better now, a little sore,” Oliveira said. “I put ice on it three times a day, but it is no problem.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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