LAUGHLIN, Nev. – He may have appeared to be weaker than normal, butBushwacker was still no easy task for one of the strongest bull riders currently on the Built Ford Tough Series on Friday night during the Desert Showdown presented by Cooper Tires.
2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi fell victim to Bushwacker in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, bucking off in 4.88 seconds on a night where the two-time World Champion Bull struggled out of the gate and seemingly couldn’t find any footing at the outdoor Laughlin Events Center.
“I was there 4, 5 seconds with him, but when he got off his jump he put all the pressure on my feet,” Marchi said. “I try so bad. I come to ride him, but he bucked me off again, but I feel happy because I tried hard.”
Bushwacker was marked a BFTS-career-low 43 points, but was still able to force Marchi over the top of his head and onto the arena sand that had at first appeared to be working in the 32-year-old’s favor. The bovine athlete could be seen sinking a tad into the dirt when he left the bucking chute and was never able to fully turn back like he has been known to do.
It was just the fifth time in the past four years that Bushwacker was marked less than 45 points on the BFTS. Still, somehow he bucked off his 17th consecutive rider on the BFTS and 11th this season.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray believed the judges got the score correct, but he also added that just because Bushwacker was marked a low score shouldn’t take away from the fact that he quite handily took care one of this season’s strongest world title contenders.
“It wasn’t a spectacular out that makes you go ‘Wow,’ but you also have to look at what the end result was,” Murray said. “I think they scored it right, but at the same time he jerks Guilherme Marchi forward and causes him to slap and rips him out of there. That is one of those things that shows when he has a mediocre day, for him, it is still more than arguably the best bull rider that we have right now can handle.”
At the 4-second mark, it appeared as if Marchi may be able to become the first rider to conquer Bushwacker since J.B. Mauney did last season. However, it was then when Bushwacker finally was able to find some strong footing.
“When I past the second jump, I said, ‘This is my time right now,’” Marchi said, “but he broke into the spin and moved forward and put all of the pressure into my feet.”
Murray added, “At the point he ripped Guilherme Marchi out of there, he was coming to the right and that is Guilherme Marchi’s office.”
Julio Moreno stressed that he didn’t want to use the ground as an excuse, but admitted the conditions were certainly not favorable all night.
“I’m not trying to make excuses, but that ground is terrible,” Moreno said. “That was bad ground. He was deep going into it. The ground got deeper. He went over there to do it and said there is nothing and I don’t even know how he got him off.”
After watching the entire first round and another 14 outs in the 15/15 Bucking Battle before Bushwacker readied himself in the chute, Moreno knew the ground was going to be an issue. He appeared more nervous than normal, continuously looking at the conditions.
Chase Outlaw, who won the 15/15 Bucking Battle with 89.5 points aboardSouth Paw, actually climbed into the chute for Moreno to attempt to solidify the ground some with his feet. Shorty Gorham did the same outside.
Yet when Bushwacker left the gate, he headed back toward the open half of the arena, where the majority of Friday night’s outs took place.
“It was damn sure nerve racking,” Moreno added. “He didn’t turn back or do nothing. He was doing this when all of a sudden he was off.”
Murray compared Bushwacker’s out to that of a bull he faced before called Grasshopper.
“A lot of great bulls have been like that,” he said. “He was one of those bulls where it didn’t look special, but the way he times his break over and drop was so powerful, it felt like it was going to rip your arm off, and I see that same trait in Bushwacker, along with the way he always changes the game. You never know what he is going to do and he is intensely strong.”
Marchi has been bucked off by Bushwacker two times this season after previously bucking off the bovine at Last Cowboy Standing in 3.88 seconds. He hopes that he can get another chance at Bushwacker in one of the World Champion Bull contender’s final four outs before retiring at the conclusion of the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“I wish to get on him again before he retire,” he concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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