Monday, May 13, 2013 | 3:39 p.m.
By Keith Ryan Cartwright, PBR
A few hours before the final day of the Last Cowboy Standing, nine-time world champion Ty Murray asked Silvano Alves if he was going to win the top $100,000 event. Alves smiled and shook his head yes.
He did more than win the Last Cowboy Standing on Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center. In the minds of many, he solidified himself as the odds-on favorite to win an unprecedented third consecutive world title when the season concludes back in Las Vegas in October.
One would be hard-pressed to convince Murray otherwise, and, the next morning, fellow PBR co-founder Cody Lambert said the 25-year-old Brazilian is the best professional bull rider in the world.
Two former world champions — Michael Gaffney and Justin McBride — agreed.
“He was the best bull rider again tonight,” said McBride. “And that ride on Smackdown, that was a really good ride. For a right-handed guy, that bull is no day off.” Gaffney added, “That’s the first time a right-handed guy has ridden that bull.”
Alves claimed the Last Cowboy Standing moniker for the second consecutive year with a 92.5-point effort in the fourth round after coming down off David’s Dream a round earlier, when many predicted that he had a good chance to win.
However, all seven riders in Round 3 ― L.J. Jenkins, Alves, Nathan Schaper, Valdiron de Oliveira, Aaron Roy, Cody Nance and Joao Ricardo Vieira ― bucked off, so all seven were brought back for another round, and that’s when Alves took the competition to task.
He’s the No. 1-ranked rider in the world for a reason. He’s ridden five more bulls than any other rider this year, and his 51.72 percent average is the third best among the top contenders for this year’s title.
The Las Vegas event was his second event win of 2013 and, more importantly, going into the summer break, he extended his lead atop the standings to 1,319.91 points over Marcho Eguchi, while Shane Proctor slipped to third and trails by 1,358.20 points.
“What it all boils down to is staying on your bulls,” said McBride when asked about Alves’ success in the progressive-style format. “And he’s proven for the last three years in a row that he’s the best guy at that.”
“He’s going to ride most of them is what I think,” Gaffney said. “If you keep running them underneath him, he’s going to ride a majority of them. I think he’s been a little hit-and-miss lately, from what I hear.”
That’s not the case anymore. In 17 Built Ford Tough Series events, Alves has recorded nine Top 10 finishes, of which seven have been in the Top Five, including a pair of wins in Fresno, Calif., and now Las Vegas.
In the past three events, he’s been in the final round competing for the event win. He finished 7th in Des Moines and 3rd in Boise before his crowd-rousing victory at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his photo galleries of champion Silvano Aves and Days 1 and 2 of the Last Cowboy Standing at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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