Behind the Chutes: Davis Trying to Break Out of Slow Start

By: Justin Felisko
January 15, 2017

Cooper Davis won Round 3 Sunday after an 88.5-point ride on Red Sails In The Sunset. Photo: Andy Watson /

CHICAGO – Here are three things we learned from the Chicago Invitational this weekend at Allstate Arena.

Davis: ‘They have a reason to talk’ (1-15-17)

There was plenty of talk and chatter this weekend about defending World Champion Cooper Davis’ focus, mentality and poor riding through the first two weeks of the Built Ford Tough Series.

Davis made sure to silence some of his critics with an emphatic 88.5-point ride on Red Sails In The Sunset to win Round 3 Sunday afternoon.

“Every time I have ever seen that bull, he would fall out to the left and really buck,” Davis said. “Today, he went around to the right and I kept fighting for the full 8 seconds. It worked out.”

Davis wound up just shy of qualifying for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round and finished in seventh-place, but the third-year pro was happy to get back on the scoreboard with 100 points toward the world standings and to hear that wonderful 8-second buzzer again.

The 22-year-old has struggled this year, going 2-for-7.

His first round win of 2017 did move him up to 11th in the world standings, though.

“They have a reason to talk,” Davis said about people questioning his slow start. “I shouldn’t be riding like that. I had two months off and, heck, I guess I was just lazy. I should have been getting on practice bulls. It is nobody’s fault, but mine.”

Davis is coming off a mentally exhausting 2016 season where he rallied on the final day of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals to win the championship.

With the championship came more requests for interviews and less time to be home or focus on bull riding.

Davis admitted he has been a little bit mentally gassed this year, but explained that he is starting to learn how to handle being the defending World Champ and expects to rebound next weekend in Oklahoma City.

“When I say lazy, instead of going to get on bulls at the end of December, I had other priorities,” he said. “It takes a little bit to get back into it. It takes a little bit of adjusting. I am not one to say no when someone wants to interview me, but when it comes to affecting my riding and how I make my living, I sometimes have to do that.”

Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 3 was Derek Kolbaba (87.75 points on Beast of Burden), Rubens Barbosa (86.75 points on Red Bandana), Ryan Dirteater (86.75 points on Pneu Dart’s Captain) and Eduardo Aparecido (86.25 points on Get Smoked).

Davis has plenty of time to get back into the 2017 world title race and put his slow start to bed.

“If I can go kick some tail in the next 25 (events) or so, I think I will be alright,” he concluded.

Barbosa wins with first 90-point ride in five years

Rubens Barbosa had never gone a perfect 4-for-4 at a Built Ford Tough Series event until winning the Chicago Invitational this weekend.

In fact, the last time Barbosa eclipsed the 90-point ride mark came at the 2011 PBR World Finals when he was a rookie and went 4-for-6 with two 90-point rides.

The 2011 Rookie of the Year channeled his prior self on Sunday by riding Cooper Tires Brown Sugar for 90.25 points and his first 90-point ride in five years during the championship round.

“Before I picked the bull, I had to decide which bull to pick in the championship round, and everyone said that bull is kind of good to get on,” Barbosa said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “I never got on that bull before and I was feeling strong. I got it done for 90.25 points.”

The rank bull ride helped Barbosa win his second round in as many days. The 33-year-old arguably should have been 90-plus points on Saturday night when he won Round 2 with an 88.75-point ride on Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe.

Barbosa’s 4-for-4 performance helps him leave Chicago as the No. 2 bull rider in the world standings. He trails world leader Jess Lockwood by 205 points.

“I am very happy this week to get on really good bulls,” Barbosa said. “I have no words to explain. I am just so happy for everything.

Barbosa earned 725 total points toward the world standings. He won 500 for winning the event average and an additional 245 points via round finish. The two round wins gave him 200 points. He tied for third place in Round 3 (86.75 points on Red Bandana) for 45 world points. Barbosa began his weekend with an 82.25-point effort aboard Small Time.

Kaique Pacheco was the only other rider to go 4-for-4 in Chicago, but was 9.5 points behind Barbosa in the event average standings, and finished second overall (380 world points)

Rounding out the Top 5 in Chicago was Brady Sims (3-for-4, 275 world points), 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi (3-for-4, 125 world points) and Jess Lockwood (3-for-4, 115 world points).

Lockwood stays on top of the world standings, but wants to be better

Lockwood didn’t have a letdown following the biggest win of his career in New York last week.

The 19-year-old still sits atop of the world standings and gave one hell of a gritty effort in the championship round.

Lockwood hung off the side of Modified Clyde during the final seconds of his 81.25-point ride for his PBR-leading seventh qualified ride.

“There was nothing that went right in that ride except my try,” Lockwood said.

There were six total rides in the championship round.

Margo Eguchi finished second in the round with a season-high 89 points aboard Catfish John, while Pacheco placed third with his 86.75 points on Jailhouse Jr.

Marchi finished fourth in the round with 83.25 points on Wicked Stick. The 34-year-old is now 15 rides away from becoming the first rider to reach 600 rides at the BFTS level.

Matt Triplett (68.5 points on Dennis The Menace) turned down a re-ride option because of a minor hip injury and finished sixth in the round.

The 2016 Rookie of the Year may have finished fifth in the round, but he wasn’t happy with his performance.

“If you don’t look at my rides this weekend, it looks like I did alright, but my rides were not put together well this weekend,” Lockwood said. “I have to follow it up with finishing my rides. I improved on that this weekend, but I need to improve it some more.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Keyshawn Whitehorse sustained a concussion when he was kicked in the head after being thrown from Dirty Vegas in Round 3. He is questionable for Oklahoma City.

Dener Barbosa (concussion) did not compete on Sunday and is also questionable for Oklahoma City.

Joao Ricardo Vieira (2-for-4) finished tied for 19th place after competing with a sprained left elbow (UCL, riding arm) from New York.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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