Behind the chutes: Oklahoma City

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  • Brazilian riders dominating the competition

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With six wins in six Built Ford Tough Series events this season, the PBR’s Brazilian riders could be said to be dominating the competition.

Adriano Moraes sees it differently.

The only three-time World Champion in PBR history said, “To me, it’s just a coincidence so far that just Brazilians won.”

It started with Valdiron de Oliveira in New York. Since then Renato Nunes, Silvano Alves, Robson Palermo and Guilherme Marchi won events in successive weeks. Last weekend in Oklahoma City, it was Paulo Lima’s turn.

“I don’t see it as domination, because you see like two Brazilians in every short round, especially the past three weeks,” Moraes said, “and different riders are winning.”

Only twice have more than two Brazilians competed in any single short round, and those came in the Built Ford Tough Championship Rounds in Sacramento, Calif., and Indianapolis. By comparison, two times there has been only one Brazilian in a short round, and the other eight short rounds featured just two.

“They’re dominating winning the events,” Moraes said, “but I don’t see a domination, because it’s not just one guy that’s dominating – six different guys – and the lead is changing. It just happens to be six different Brazilians. I see six different individuals.”

Of the six, Oliveira has proven to be the most consistent in riding percentage and the number of short rounds he’s ridden in.

He’s covered 18 of 22 bulls this season for a staggering 81.8 percent average, and has appeared in seven of 12 short rounds, including four of six championship rounds. He leads Austin Meier in the world standings by 432 points.

Alves, Marchi and Lima have all qualified for four short rounds, while Palermo has ridden in three, and the injured Nunes has ridden in two.

Moraes sees next week’s Iron Cowboy Invitational coming down to either Oliveira or Alves.

“I believe those two are the best guys,” he said. “Silvano has stumbled for the last two or three weeks, but I know Silvano, and he won’t let that get on his mind and next week’s going to be a new deal. He has a pretty good mind game that will forget what happened and move on.”

Moraes credited their endurance and high riding percentages – Alves has the second-highest average at 72.2 percent – as two main reasons for his prediction. Oliveira was last year’s Iron Cowboy winner.

“I really believe that they can ride five bulls,” Moraes said. “There, it’s going to be a matter of who can endure the most bulls.”

IRON COWBOY INVITATIONAL II

Austin Meier said it’s not a matter of what he learned or didn’t learn at last year’s Iron Cowboy Invitational. “It’s just bull riding,” he said. “My job is the same no matter if I’m at Cowboys Stadium or the practice pen at the house. My job is to ride my bulls. As long as I keep it simple and get on the bulls I get on, nothing else is going to change.”

J. B. Mauney, who said he still has a few things to correct between now and Arlington, is to happy to have drawn PAYCHECK for his first bull. The North Carolina native said he was 92.5 points on that same bull at a Touring Pro event in Kearney, Neb. If he advances, he’ll face CHICKEN ON A CHAIN, followed by VOODOO CHILD.

GUILHERME MARCHI took one look at the bracket for the Iron Cowboy and said, “I have good bulls in my draw at the Iron Cowboy – first bull, second bull, and just the third bull I think is a little tough.” The bull he’s not looking forward to is PERFECT POISON, who would be followed by I’M A GANGSTER and eventually the money bull, SUPER DUTY, for $100,000.

ROBSON PALERMO is still questionable for this weekend’s Iron Cowboy Invitational. He sustained bruising of his chest and a left hip pointer when he was stepped on after riding his first round bull in Oklahoma City. He is meeting with Dr. Tandy Freeman on Monday afternoon before making a decision.

Ryan McConnel said he’s thankful he’ll have a first-round bye next week at Arlington, because “it’s the rankest pen of bulls Cody Lambert has put together. … With those rank bulls it’s pretty important.”

Dustin Elliott said of bull power at Cowboys Stadium: “When you’re getting paid that kind of money, you should have to ride those kind of bulls. That’s kind of the gist of it all wrapped up into one little sentence.”

Jordan Hupp is making his first appearance at the Iron Cowboy Invitational, and the recent Texas transplant sees it as an endurance test. “It’s a lot of bulls in one day,” said Hupp, who accepted two re-ride options Friday night in Oklahoma City before settling on his third qualified ride of the night. “I didn’t have any kind of a break, really,” he recalled. “I was just one after the other. I was tired after the third one, but hopefully with a little bit of a break in between, I’ll be able to keep the energy up a little bit.”

NED CROSS agreed with JORDAN HUPP. “It’s tough,” he said. “They’re going to make you earn every dime that you make there. You have to be ready and prepared, but it’s an awesome event.” Cross, who didn’t make it out of the first round last year, likened the atmosphere to the PBR World Finals. “It’s pretty awesome to be able to ride there, and it pumps me up,” he said.

Shane Proctor advanced from the first to the second round in 2010 before coming down off of COOL SPOT in 2.8 seconds to be eliminated from the competition. “What I learned last year to take into the Iron Cowboy this year, is that you have to stay on your bulls to make it to the next round,” he joked. “There are a lot of really rank bulls and basically it comes down to who wants it the most and who’s willing to hang on.”

Travis Briscoe didn’t have a bye last year and advanced through the entire bracket to face VALDIRON de OLIVEIRA in a final-round matchup on CODE BLUE. Looking back at his second-place finish, Briscoe said, “Really, you have to look at it as just another bull ride. That’s all it really is – getting on bulls and trying to do your best, period.” After riding PAYCHECK and SMACKDOWN he got beat up and banged around by BLACK PEARL and VOODOO CHILD before bucking off Code Blue in 3.6 seconds. “I didn’t do a dang thing that week,” he said. “I mean, it sored me up for a few days, but I put my hand in my rope the same way I did the week before.”

— by Keith Ryan Cartwright

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