FRESNO, Calif. ― After watching the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Friday night in Fresno, Calif., there’s no reason to think that Bushwacker isn’t en route to winning a third World Champion Bull title.
He bucked off an injured L.J. Jenkins in 1.45 seconds and judges marked him 45.25 points.
Owner Julio Moreno said Bushwacker “really kicked over his head and had a really good out.”
He had bucked last Sunday in Albuquerque, N.M., and had a chance to spend four days at home in Oakdale, Calif., where Moreno and his wife, Kindra, have a ranch, but Moreno said he was only able to exercise the reigning World Champion Bull twice in that time.
Moreno spent one day at University of California, Davis with an injured bull and another day home sick. As a result, he thought Bushwacker “looked a little porky, but he got it done.”
Bushwacker carries the third-highest career scoring average of 46.3 points behind only Dillinger (46.8) and Bodacious (46.4).
His outing at the Save Mart Center is the first time in five outs this year he wasn’t marked at least 46 points.
“I still think that Bushwacker is the frontrunner,” said two-time World Champion Justin McBride, who was in the CBS broadcast booth along with Craig Hummer and Leah Garcia.
The 15/15 telecast will air Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET.
“I feel like he’s as good right now as he’s ever been,” McBride continued. “You just didn’t get to see very much of him tonight. He didn’t get a chance to get started. I think when Bushwacker is the most spectacular is when you see him for at least three and a half seconds. He needs that much time.”
He’s only gone longer than four seconds three times in 12 outs since J.B. Mauney rode him last August.
This was the second week of a four-week stretch in which Bushwacker will compete at Built Ford Tough Series events. Surprisingly, it’s the first time he will have gone to more than three in a row in his career.
“I’ve seen very good bulls buck four days in a row,” said longtime PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert. “Bushwacker relaxes on the road. He lives on the road. It’s no big deal to him.”
When asked what most surprised Lambert, he replied, “I was surprisedJ.B. (Mauney) jumped right off Meat Hook, right on his feet. His hand is hurt obviously, but that was a hell of a surprise to me.”
He later added, “J.B. has never been one to quit trying and (Guilherme) Marchi got bucked off a good one and let an opportunity get by here.”
Marchi had won the opening round of the Built Ford Tough Series event earlier in the night with an 86.75-point effort on Strike Back to add 186.75 points to his lead atop the world standings. Luckily for him, the highest ranked rider to cover in the 15/15 Bucking Battle was Marco Eguchi, who rode RMEF Team Elk for 89 points.
Two-time World Champion Silvano Alves won the round with 89.5 points on Rango.
Lambert mentioned some riders are “banged up” 13 weeks into the season. There are another two events in as many weeks before the riders get their first weekend off of 2014 – at least for those who won’t be competing in a Touring Pro Division event Easter weekend.
Among those competing with injuries are Fabiano Vieira, Mauney, Jenkins and Robson Palermo. Sean Willingham doctored out of the 15/15 Bucking Battle after the opening round of the Table Mountain Casino Invitational.
McBride said, “Two surprises for me – both good surprises – Long John, I thought he was outstanding tonight and then Joao (Ricardo Vieira) taking a re-ride. It didn’t pan out for him, but I think he’s got the right attitude. He knows he’s capable of being a World Champion and tonight was a huge opportunity.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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