LAS VEGAS – The odds may have been stacked up against SweetPro’s Long John at the beginning of Sunday afternoon, but H.D. Page’s bovine athlete saved his best performance of the season for his final out of the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Long John swung to the left and battled jump for jump against Fabiano Vieira and used the same brute strength that made him a top World Champion Bull contender to win the 2015 championship.
He was marked 47.25 points after bucking off Vieira in 7.41 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
The 47.25 points combined with Long John’s 45.25-point marking on Thursday night for a 2.72-second buckoff of Alexandre Cardozo helped Long John win the championship with 92.5 points.
“My bull got a good start tonight,” Page said. “That is what it boils down to. It is all year and you roll the dice here in Vegas.”
Page wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived at the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday morning.
The longtime stock contractor knew Long John would need a remarkable out if he had any chance of catching event leader Jared Allen’s Air Time.
Like many others in Las Vegas, he also knew he would a little luck.
Page got both.
Air Time struggled in the bucking chute with Ryan Dirteater and was only marked 42.5 points after he left the chutes awkwardly on his way to a 4.28-second buckoff of Dirteater.
Air Time finished third overall with 89.5 total points. Bruiser placed second with 90 points.
“I knew my bull had to have an outstanding day and I really felt like with Air Time being where he was at and where he was, it was going to take something miraculous to catch him. With all of those bulls, great bulls, the start is key and Air Time got a terrible start. It was like he was in the wrong league leaving there and he just bottomed out there first jump. Those bulls, it is hard to overcome something like that.”
It also helped that Long John drew Vieira.
The tough-as-nails Brazilian bull rider bared down in championship fashion and gave the kind of effort necessary for Long John to show what he was capable of.
“I knew that when I saw Fabiano putting his rope on him that he stood a chance toward riding him,” Page said. “He helped a lot.”
Vieira said there was no question that Long John was this year’s World Champion.
“Next time I get a chance, I will ride him,” Vieira said. “My rope moved. If it didn’t move, I think I would have rode him. I like him. He is very nice. Congratulations to H.D. He is the best bull in the PBR. He can buck.”
Long John concludes the season with a BFTS-high 10 bull scores of 45 points or more. He finishes the year 11-3 with an average bull score of 45.43 points per out.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said Long John earned the 2015 championship.
“He did what he was supposed to,” Lambert said. “The first trip. He didn’t really get a chance to get going. He came out today and proved it and he earned it.”
Lambert added Vieira brought the best out of Long John.
“Oh absolutely, he has to have a good rider on him to see what he’s got,” Lambert said. “All of them good bulls do.”
Thursday night, Cardozo called Long John a World Champion Bull as well.
“He is a really rank bull,” he said. “Getting on rank bulls is part of the job. He was so big and he twisted.”
Coincidentally, Page was somewhat of a fortune teller Thursday night.
“He got hung up there a little bit, he kind of got off with the wrong lead and had to do something a little different to get back into his groove,” Page said about his bull’s out with Cardozo. “That is why he was a jump farther.
“He fought through the adversity and still really bucked good. I would feel really better if it was 47.25.”
Page got that exact score on Sunday afternoon, and he is now a World Champion Bull owner for the first time since 2006 when Mossy Oak Mudslinger won the title.
“Well, I am going to live in the moment here for a minute, but it is back to the grind pretty quick,” Page concluded. “It means everything. For us, the bull guys, this is like winning the World Championship in the bull riding.
“This is a special deal.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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