By: Justin Felisko
July 19, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – It didn’t take long for Big Cat to send two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney into the Las Vegas Village dirt this past May. In fact, it actually took longer for Mauney to make his way out of the arena then it did for Big Cat to prove his merit at Last Cowboy Standing.
In 1.94 seconds, Big Cat showed the world he has what it takes to challenge one of the top bull riders in the history of the sport.
“That is what he does every time,” stock contractor Kevin Loudamy said. “He just has a lot of bust and power – that is the main thing. The other thing he has is that one big jump out of there. When he levels that body, he just gets them tilted off.
“He is also so damn intimidating because he is so stinking big with those big ole horns.”
That kind of performance and an unblemished 14-0 record against Built Ford Tough Series competition, as well as a 22-0 overall record, has caught the attention of PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.
Lambert thinks there is still much to see from Big Cat, who is 8-0 this year with a 43.84 average bull score, but he believes Big Cat may reach another level during the second half of the Built Ford Tough Series if he keeps developing.
“Big Cat is 1,900 pounds and he is named appropriately,” Lambert said this summer. “He has a lot of passion, but he has the moves and speed of a smaller bull. He don’t care if he spins to the right or the left, but it is going to be close to the bucking chutes. He has a good amount of kick, but you haven’t seen everything he has.”
Similar to Air Time, Big Cat has made very, very quick work of his opponents. All eight of his buckoffs have come in less than 2.57 seconds, which sometimes can make it harder for judges to get a full look at a bull.
“I hold nothing against the judges at all,” Loudamy said. “They are marking what they are seeing. Every one of them just says, ‘Man, we need to see more Kevin.’ I can understand their point. Do I like it? No. But I understand it.”
Therefore, Loudamy, who was Mick E Mouse’s handler during the former World Champion Bull contender’s dominance, believes if a rider can test Big Cat beyond 5 seconds then it will gives judges an opportunity to really see the kind of power and athleticism his 5-year-old beast has.
“I would love to see him rode 5 or 6 seconds,” Loudamy said. “I have seen the bull buck with a cowboy on him that long, but he was a 3-year-old. Now I want to see it now because I haven’t seen it in such a long time.”
2010 World Champion Renato Nunes lasted 5.54 seconds on Big Cat during the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Lambert said it will be interesting to see how Big Cat does in the second half as he is now starting to face some tougher competition than earlier in his career.
“His first half of his career, he was getting easier riders,” Lambert said. “The second half of his career is the better guys. Like J.B. has only been on him once. You let J.B. keep getting on him, he is going to get ridden for sure.”
Loudamy plans to bring Big Cat to five or six events in the second half, including the Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires, on Aug. 19-20.
Big Cat has bucked off three World Champions [Mike Lee (twice), Nunes and Mauney) in his three-year career. 2011 PRCA champion Shane Proctor and three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo also have fallen victim to Big Cat.
Palermo lasted 3.08 seconds at the J.W. Hart BlueDEF Tour event in Decatur, Texas, in the bull’s last out.
“He is a great bull,” Palermo said. “He bucks and he is strong. I saw J.B. get on him in Las Vegas at Last Cowboy. The way I see him buck, he looked like a strong bull and man I found out how strong – he almost took my arm off. He went one jump right there and turned back to the right. He was moving to the front really hard. He got me and my hand kind of popped out of the rope.”
Big Cat’s best out this season was also the best of his career. He bucked off Nevada Newman in 2.01 seconds at the Ty Murray Invitational for a 45-point bull score.
So far, it is the only 45-point bull score on his resume, but Newman – and others – believe Big Cat may be a sleeper pick in the 2016 World Champion Bull race come the World Finals on Nov. 2-6 in Last Vegas at T-Mobile Arena.
“I am going to say Big Cat because he jerked me down and handled me,” Newman said when asked for one of his top three bulls of the first half. “He is so lengthy. He is a big, long bull. When he goes out there he moves so far away from you. Against me, his second jump felt like he took off from under me. He is so heavy and hard.
“He is kind of the underdog. Everyone has seen him, but no one has been keeping a close eye on him. I think he is going to be a contender. That bull, he handled J.B. in what, 2 seconds?”
Palermo added, “Oh, yeah I would put him on the list too. He definitely is not on the top of the list, but every time he bucks, he bucks hard. He has bucked a lot of guys.”
Loudamy isn’t ready just yet to declare Big Cat a top contender for the World Champion Bull title.
“I don’t know,” Loudamy said. “They are going to have to see a lot more of him to get that point. It is going to be hard to beat Air Time and Long John. Those two bulls are by far the two outstanding bulls.”
Lambert also thinks Big Cat can be ridden, just as he believes Air Time can.
There is no blueprint or special plan necessary to accomplish 8 seconds on him. Instead, Lambert believes it is going to take a rider to put forth a perfect effort and do all of the intangibles 100 percent correctly, especially fighting to stay toward the middle.
“Well, it is not really a puzzle to solve,” Lambert said. “It is mapped out for them. They have to be on perfect position on him. He is so strong he gets them out of that position. There is nothing tricky and it is not a mystery for how you will ride him. It is not a mystery how you would ride any of these rank bulls. That is something the riders have to understand. They have no control over their bull. They have absolutely zero control of the bull. They have to have 100 percent control of themselves.
“To ride one of them rank ones,” Lambert continues before laughing. “You have to do it yourself. If you think having an original strategy or some new strategy is going to help you on Big Cat, Long John and Air Time you are very confused.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Throughout the month of July, PBR.com, and the PBR’s social media channels, will be featuring a variety of bulls in the race for the 2016 World Championship, as well as some of the other rankest bovines in the business.
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