DES MOINES, Iowa – Jared Allen knows his bull Air Time can be crazy sometimes.
In fact, Allen loves when his bulls have a little attitude.
“I like when they are on edge,” Allen said earlier this season in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Not everybody can have the demeanor of Bushwacker and Asteroid. Air Time is a little crazy. The focus and the intensity that he puts forth is great. He is a wild animal. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Air Time is set to buck for the first time in over a month when he takes on 2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney during Saturday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle, which can be seen Sunday on CBS network television at 2 p.m. ET.
It will be most likely one of the biggest challenges of Air Time’s career as Mauney will be just the second World Champion he has ever faced on the Built Ford Tough Series.
However, it is exactly the kind of matchup that stock contractor Matt Scharping has wanted for Air Time.
“When I had seen the draw I was ecstatic,” Scharping said. “Here is the deal. Either way, what I love about J.B. getting on Air Time is he will give Air Time an absolute fair shot. He can ride him and be a boatload of points, or if he bucks off and Air Time has his day, he is going to make Air Time look like a superstar.”
Scharping and Allen have purposely been holding Air Time back this season. They ideally want to buck him only once a month in hopes of keeping him fresh for the second half of the season.
He knows the decision has put Air Time in the back of the pack of the 2015 World Champion Bull race, but Scharping believes a stronger Air Time in the second half can push Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team bovine right into the mix.
“I will buck him more in the fall during the second half,” Scharping said. “I am not going to run him off in the first half. He tries so hard and is so destructive on his body. In my opinion, he needs more rest. He really needs four weeks to be fresh, and when he is fresh we have our best outs.”
Scharping is treating Air Time like a prized boxer who needs to rest in between fights.
Air Time will certainly need every ounce of strength when he squares off against Mauney.
“If he rides him, I will be the first one to congratulate him because I am a J.B. fan,” Scharping said. “The guy is a true cowboy. If he bucks him off, I will be happy for the bull. It is a win-win.”
Air Time, who is 3-0 this season, last bucked in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and threw off 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes in 1.6 seconds for a bull score of 44.25 points.
Nunes – the only rider to make 8 seconds on Air Time in 11 outs – previously rode Air Time for 92.5 points in Phoenix last year.
The out came two weeks after Air Time had his third best out of his career against Kasey Hayes in Arlington, Texas, at Iron Cowboy. In that contest, Air Time was marked 46.75 points for taking down Hayes in 4.21 seconds.
“One of these days I am going to ride him for a lot of points,” Hayes said. “I was trying my balls off and I hate it when I am trying that hard to ride one and I just get it handed to me like that. He has had that same trip with me both times, but I have seen completely different trips out of him that are probably in fact harder to ride.”
Hayes is no stranger to the power of Air Time. He also was downed by Air Time in 3 seconds last season in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Air Time was marked 47 points in that out.
“When they buck that hard into your hand you think you have a good shot to ride him and you don’t,” Hayes said. “He just kicks so hard and is so snappy. He is up and he is down. When he comes down he kicks straight over his head, so if you are a little bit out of position that kick is going to put you that much farther out of position on the way forward. As he is kicking you forward, he is already coming up and you are already behind.”
Allen obviously was impressed with Air Time’s out in Arlington. He even jokingly texted Sharping during the event asking if he should be rooting for his rider or his bull.
“His trip out in Arlington I thought was amazing,” Allen said. “To be honest, I thought he looked outstanding in South Dakota, especially coming off a short rest (two weeks) for what our gameplan is. He was dang near standing on his head, that bull was so vertical that it was impressive seeing that.”
Air Time’s career-best outing came at Last Cowboy Standing last year when he made quick work of Joseph McConnel for 47 points. Scharping plans on bringing Air Time back to Las Vegas this year for Last Cowboy Standing, the feature event of Cowboy Spring Break.
One of the major weaknesses of Air Time is his skittishness inside the bucking chute. Air Time struggles with remaining composed and calm and can be frightened by the smallest things, which is why Scharping thinks Mauney will be a good fit for Air Time.
Scharping believes the best thing riders can do on Air Time is to nod for the gate when Air Time has his head down.
“I rather have them take him with his head down, which is totally opposite of what you normally want,” Scharping explained. “He is like an ostrich, he wants to bury his head so, ‘If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.’ I know it sounds stupid, but he is scared of his own shadow.
“When he comes out he uses that head coming up as momentum and that is when he turns back right there to the left. Now, that is what I have seen, but he will probably make a liar of me.”
Air Time may be unpredictable, but Scharping believes Air Time will certainly be ready come Saturday night.
“I know the bull will be ready to go,” he said. “The thing is, I am never going to say that Air Time is going to be Mr. Consistent and have the same trip every time because he tries so hard and his whole focus is just to get that guy off his back. If he could pull a switchblade I think he would. He does everything he can to get them off.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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