BIG SKY, Mont. – Cooper Davis exited the out gate at Sage Brush Field and glanced up at the big screen. The 21-year-old then quickly dropped to a knee and said a quick prayer instead of watching the replay of his 88-point ride on Ink Spots.
It was that easy for the rookie bull rider from Wharton, Texas, and it was just a sign of things to come on Thursday night.
Davis ended up winning Round 1 of the Big Sky BlueDEF Velocity Tour event thanks to that ride before riding bounty bull American Gangster for 90 points and $2,000.
“It is exciting,” Davis said. “That was a really good bull. I couldn’t have picked a better one to get on away from my hand. It felt good so I put a few money chops on him and it worked out.”
It is the second consecutive week in which Davis has won a round on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour. Davis rode What A Burger last week for 89 points to win the long round of the Kasey Hayes / Stormy Wing Invitational in Guymon, Oklahoma.
Davis was so calm and collected on his first ride in Big Sky that he was barely phased when Ink Spots hit the corner aggressively.
“Yeah, that was a heck of a corner that bull had,” Davis said. “He started out real strong and he had never been ridden that far. I think I caught him off guard.”
The No. 16 bull rider in the world says that things are starting to fall into place for him at just the right time with the Built Ford Tough Series resuming next weekend in Biloxi, Mississippi, at the Battle at the Beau.
“I have been doing my part staying on and I am just really excited for what the future holds,” he said.
Davis would certainly love to earn a BDVT win before Biloxi, but right behind him in Big Sky is a pack of points-hungry riders.
Sean Willingham, currently 47th in the world standings, is sitting second in the event average after riding Make You Famous for 87 points.
Big Sky is Willingham’s third event back since fracturing his neck in Billings, Montana. A win in Big Sky would give him a guaranteed BFTS event and move into a tie for 39th in the world standings with Tyler Harr.
“I love Big Sky,” Willingham said. “I have had good success here in the past. This is very important. I am 47th in the world and that doesn’t go to Vegas so every point from here on out counts, especially for me to get to Vegas.”
Make You Famous is owned by Matt Triplett.
“That is a great bull of Triplett’s,” Willingham added. “He sent me a video earlier today and said I am going to have fun with that one. I have been struggling since I have been back. I have only rode one and I felt good today. The bull really bucked and I stayed on for eight and made it work out. I am here for fun and not to take it so seriously.”
Triplett was bucked off by Lil Earl in his first bull riding since spraining his riding wrist at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Moline, Illinois.
Harr revealed on Thursday that he has been riding with a partially torn PCL in his right knee. According to Harr, Dr. Tandy Freeman recommended that he take 12 weeks off, but Harr said he wants to try and fight his way through the injury and qualify for his first Built Ford Tough World Finals.
The 25-year-old rode Big Enough for 85.5 points and is tied with Robson Aragao (85.5 points on Westley’s Pet) for fifth in the event.
“I have planned this week to be one of the biggest weeks of the year for me,” Harr said. “If I can get these points and finish the week in Sterling, (Colorado) and Goodland, (Kansas) and Brighton, (Colorado), it can lead me to coming on tour in Biloxi and making that run to the Finals and getting to start next year off on tour and not have to fight through this all year.”
Jay Miller, the No. 52-ranked bull rider in the world standings, knows the fastest way for him to get onto the BFTS is by earning a victory in Big Sky and earning a BDVT exemption.
Miller is third in the event with an 86-point ride on Eric The Outlaw.
“Man, I probably need it worse than anybody here,” Miller said. “I am kind of at the bottom of the totem pole and I have been riding good these last few weekends. I feel like stuff is turning around. Momentum is one of the best things for your bull riding. You get a ball rolling and it just tends to keep rolling for you.”
World No. 5 Nathan Schaper is fourth in the event courtesy of an 86.5-point effort aboard Seven Slinger, while No. 11 Stetson Lawrence is also one of the 10 riders with a qualified ride after earning 85 points on Bart.
Big Sky concludes Friday night and fans can watch the event exclusively on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
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