By: Justin Felisko
September 16, 2016
CHARLOTTE – A rider’s success in the sport of professional bull riding can change within milliseconds. Just ask Cooper Davis.
The No. 2 rider in the world standings was cruising along ever since the Built Ford Tough Series resumed in Nashville before a broken clavicle interrupted his momentum.
The 2015 World Finals event winner had won his first PBR Major and then followed it up with a victory in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a second-place finish in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Davis overtook Kaique Pacheco for the world No. 1 ranking for a brief moment and was becoming one of the riders to beat in the race for the 2016 World Championship.
Now, Davis is home recovering from successful surgery to repair his clavicle. The 22-year-old will only be out a few weeks, and while he is still very much in the world title race, it’s another reminder of just how fast things can change in the toughest sport on dirt.
It is why nine-time World Champion Ty Murray cautions about current world leader Pacheco being in the driver’s seat. Yes, the second-year pro has the ability to win the 2016 world title and is one of the favorites, but he could easily be joining Davis on the injury list if things don’t go his way.
It is the nature of the sport.
“It can change tonight, but right now he is in a good position,” Murray said. “He has to keep doing what he is doing. He came this close to getting squished last (week) and that is the nature of this sport. It goes back to when you have laser focus, and you are able to be healthy, and stay in that moment.
“Every time you ride, you are faced with 20 split-second decisions that you better make a call on.”
Murray will be in the broadcast booth alongside Craig Hummer for Saturday night’s CBS Sports Network Broadcast (Sunday 6 pm ET).
He will be keeping a keen eye on Pacheco, as well as other world title contenders such as J.B. Mauney and Fabiano Vieira.
Pacheco begins the weekend on Friday night with an 80.33-point advantage over Davis. He also leads Mauney by 675.33 points.
“It is easy to stay healthy when you are riding your bulls and making good decisions,” Murray said. “A good decision may be even your get off. Do I take this bad shot here or do I wait one more?
Davis broke his clavicle when he was slammed during his get off against Psycho Path in Tulsa.
Pacheco is now one of the healthiest riders left in the Top-10 of the world standings, while Davis, Mauney, Fabiano Vieira and Joao Ricardo Vieira try to overcome injuries.
Murray said that confidence and health go hand-in-hand.
“The more confidence you have – the more you know exactly who you are and where you are going – the better you are going to make those split second decisions that come at you every night,” Murray said. “It isn’t just luck that the best guys get through their career or season without getting hurt by kicking ass. It isn’t just luck. There is some luck that needs to be involved, but there is a lot more to it than that.”
It was in Charlotte last year when Pacheco stole Mauney’s thunder in his home state with a 3-for-3 winning performance. The moment was featured on Netflix’s “Fearless” docuseries and the victory really captured the 2015 Rookie of the Year’s poise and relentlessness when it comes to going against the best bull riders in the world, including Mauney.
Mauney went on to win the 2015 title, but Pacheco also had a strong finish to the 2015 regular season.
The runner-up to Mauney in the final world standings won Charlotte and finished second to Mauney in Tucson, Arizona. In fact, Pacheco finished 2015 9-for-16, while Mauney went 10-for-14 with a second-place finish in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a win in Tucson.
Pacheco leads the PBR this year with 35 qualified rides and has the fourth-highest riding percentage (48.61 percent).
However, as Slade Long wrote in Friday’s Morning Line, Pacheco is 3-for-9 in the last two weeks.
Pacheco has a great chance to get things started at this weekend’s Charlotte Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, with a qualified ride aboard I’m Trouble. Pacheco rode this same bull for 86 points in New York.
Fans can watch Round 1 exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
A victory in Charlotte could end up being extremely beneficial to Pacheco’s world title aspirations with Davis on the shelf this week.
“It is the same thing as always,” Murray said. “I think Kaique is marching his way toward a gold buckle. I thought it last year and I think it this year. I couldn’t tell you for sure it is going to be this year, but there is a really good chance. But I think it is going to be in his future and he knows it. He knows he has the ability. He is just marching toward that. Everything he does is all going toward that.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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