Jessy Davis has given himself reason to believe.
Davis’ 85-point ride on Flying U Rodeo’s Wet Feather won the April 20-22 Red Bluff Round-Up, his biggest bareback riding title in three years and the surest sign yet that he may be ready for a return to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
And this wasn’t just about the money. The $5,216 Davis earned at this Wrangler Million Dollar Silver Tour event presented by Justin Boots was certainly big – he moved to fifth in the Tour standings and 10th in the world standings – but the way he won was even bigger.
He beat a field that had virtually every top bareback rider in the world and he finished with a three-point margin on his nearest challengers. Three-time World Champion Will Lowe, Wes Stevenson and Casey Colletti tied for second place with 82-point rides.
“This rodeo has really good stock and a lot of good riders,” Davis said. “It just feels good to be back up there butting heads with those guys. It’s a big confidence builder for me. The last three years, I wasn’t always sure if I really wanted to do this. I was getting sick of donating money (with his entry fees).”
Davis has been struggling to return to the elite level of his event since he dislocated his left shoulder during the 2008 Wrangler NFR, finishing 23rd in 2009 and 29th in each of the last two seasons. His last big win was a shared title at the 2009 Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“After the dislocated shoulder I had some other injuries that slowed my return,” Davis said. “I had a pulled groin; sports hernias …those three years were rough. My hat’s off to anybody who has to come back from injuries. It’s a frustrating deal.
“The good news is that it all sort of evaporated. I don’t know why or how. Right around last November at the (Wilderness) Circuit Finals in Ogden (Utah), I started feeling pretty dang healthy, where I could get back to my riding style and compete. This felt great. Red Bluff is a rodeo I’ve always wanted to win.”
There was good news, too, for tie-down roper Monty Lewis, another veteran fighting to earn a spot at the Wrangler NFR after a few years away.
Lewis placed in two rounds and easily won the three-head average with a time of 27.3 seconds. Ryle Smith was second in 29.0 and reigning World Champion Tuf Cooper was third in 29.4.
The other champions were steer wrestler Clayton Moore (18.0 seconds on three head), team ropers Levi Grantham and Ronnie Garcia (21.6 seconds on three head), saddle bronc riders Cort Scheer and Cody Wright (84 points each), bull rider Trey Benton III (87 points) and Brittany Pozzi (34.47 seconds on two runs).
Trevor Brazile won the all-around title with $3,365, all of which came from finishing second in the team roping with partner Patrick Smith.
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