OKLAHOMA CITY – There is no question that the bull power during the Express Employment Professionals Invitational will be the first major test of the season for the PBR’s top riders.
Defending World Champion Silvano Alves has continued to defy the odds and continuously make it to the 8-second whistle since his 2014 march to the world title. This weekend, Alves will look to add his to PBR consecutive ride record (24) when he first takes on Big Dip, who is making his BFTS debut, in Round 1.
He is then slated to face Deja Voodoo in the second round on Saturday night.
Alves has been by far the top bull rider through the first three events of the season and already has more than double the world points of No. 2 Matt Triplett. He is coming off a 5-for-5 performance last weekend in New York and leads Triplett by 645 points.
Triplett will face Spin Machine in Round 1 and American Sniper in Round 2.
Two matchups to keep an eye on in Round 1 on Friday night include J.W. Harris vs. Bruiser and Tanner Byrne vs. Brutus.
Byrne said Thursday that he has seen some past videos of Brutus. Friday night is Brutus’ BFTS debut and he is 10-0 so far in his young career.
“I got a really good one,” Byrne said. “He looks real good. He looks really up and down and a pretty good- sized bull. They haven’t rode him by the looks of it. Those are the ones I like to get on.”
Just last week, Byrne was the first rider to cover Raven Flyer in 20 BFTS outs and 28 overall when he made the 8-second mark for 87.25 points.
Bruiser has only been ridden two times in six BFTS outs, including J.B. Mauney’s 93.25-point ride during the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Billy Robinson will not compete this weekend because of his sprained MCL that he sustained last weekend when he was stepped on by Gentleman Jim in the second round of the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden.
Other riders that remain out because of injury include: Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction); Claudio Crisostomo (left clavicle fracture); Ty Pozzobon (concussion) and Markus Mariluch (bicep surgery).
Bonner Bolton is set to make his first appearance on the BFTS courtesy of his win at the Bakersfield, California, BlueDEF Velocity Tour event last November. It will be the eighth event of his career, but only his second since 2012. He went 2-for-3 in the final regular-season BFTS event of 2014 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Bolton is currently 29th in the world standings and takes on Godfrey’s Red Bull in Round 1 and Buster in Round 2.
The three alternates this weekend include Ben Jones, Jason Malone and Harve Stewart.
Jones, currently ranked ninth in the world, has been one of the more impressive alternates in the first month of 2015, going 4-for-8. He has drawn Bert in Round 1 and Stuntin Like My Daddy in Round 2.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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