SALINAS, Calif. – Despite being much smaller than his older brother Bushwacker, Roy has never once been intimidated by the three-time World Champion Bull.
There have been multiple moments on Julio Moreno’s Oakdale, California, ranch where Roy has tried picking a fight with the legend or any of Moreno’s other bulls.
It is almost as if Roy knows just how close he was to earning a tad bit of bragging rights against Bushwacker.
Roy obviously doesn’t pay attention to his own bull scores, but, in fact, other than the final round of the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals, Roy actually outperformed Bushwacker in four of their final five head-to-head meetings when they both bucked at the same PBR event.
It all started last year at the Salinas, California, Touring Pro Division event, where the now-6-year-old bull returns as the top World Champion Bull contender bucking on Wednesday night.
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In 2014, Roy stood in a pen away from Bushwacker as a slew of reporters, cameras and fans gawked at the marvelous bull standing just beyond the massive jumbotron.
Roy, who has given Moreno fits on his ranch in the past when he pays attention to other bulls, just stood there pacing back-and-forth as everyone crowded toward Bushwacker.
If he could talk, Roy easily could have said, ‘Hello, does anyone want to know who I am?’
Moreno sure did.
He had told his roping friends in attendance, including his close friend Dennis Watkins, to keep an eye on Roy despite all of the hype about Bushwacker bucking for the last time in Salinas.
Regardless, no one wanted to pay much attention to Roy.
That was until Roy erupted out of the bucking chutes at the Salinas Sports Complex and slammed Cody Campbell to the ground in 1.51 seconds for a then career-high 46-point bull score.
“I remember him going and everyone was so focused on Bushwacker,” Moreno said on Tuesday. “Everybody came back and was like, ‘Wow he is the real deal.’”
Still, even Moreno was shocked as Roy, who had only been marked above 45 points once before that out, surged to the finish of last year’s Built Ford Tough Series. Roy then nearly ruined Bushwacker’s farewell tour at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals with another 46-point score, this time as Eduardo Aparecido rode him for 93.25 points.
It was Roy’s fourth consecutive out of 45 points or higher and he would fall just a quarter of a point short of winning the World Champion Bull title.
It was a valiant effort by Roy and his late-season performance gave Moreno hope and excitement for his bull’s future.
When it comes to size, style and attitude, Roy brings a different package to the arena compared to Bushwacker.
The 1,500-pound bull brings a wicked spin and agility inside the arena that was on full display at this year’s Last Cowboy Standing when Cody Nance nearly rode him before being whipped to the side as Roy faded toward the center of the arena.
Roy was marked a career-best 46.25 points.
“Well, what impressed me was him trying so hard to get Cody off,” Moreno said. “To me, Cody has Roy’s number. He had that ride on him at the Finals (89 points in 2013) as a Classic Bull.”
Bushwacker did plenty of his damage over the course of his six-year career with visceral strength and leaping ability, while Roy has been able to develop quite a ferocious, blistering spin that has led to 12 buckoffs in 14 BFTS outs.
Stetson Lawrence was another of the five riders that were bucked off by Roy this season. Lawrence lasted 4.87 seconds in Seattle’s 15/15 Bucking Battle.
“He really blew out of there. Then just started spinning really fast and fading,” Lawrence recalled. “(He) got my feet, it all happened really quick.”
Roy’s first BFTS buckoff came in 2013 against Lawrence when he bucked off the North Dakota bull rider in 4.87 seconds.
Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said earlier this summer if he were riding today he would love to get on Roy.
“He is pretty impressive,” Lambert said. “He looks to me like he would be one of the more fun bulls ever to get on because the first round he has some kick and a little back up. The rest of the time he is fading across the arena while he is spinning. When bulls do that, it is really, really impressive to watch and it is fun to watch because not only are they are spinning, but they are traveling sideways while they do it. That doesn’t necessarily make them stronger or harder to ride. Usually, it just makes them worth more points. I love this bull. I think he is a great bull. The old bull rider in me says I would pick him every time in a draft and I would hope I drew him every time in a draw.”
Claudio Crisostomo was also bucked off by Roy this season after being dumped in 6.14 seconds in Fresno, California.
Moreno believes that out may be a sign that Roy is actually deceivingly stronger than anyone thought, himself included.
“I was nervous there,” Moreno said. “He must be strong somewhere because he gets those guys right there. I think he is a lot stronger than we really think he is. Looking at him, it is really something to see.”
The difference is that Roy’s strength appears to be from his shoulders, while Bushwacker’s was in his legs.
“He’s got big muscles,” Moreno added. “While Bushwacker had them in his legs, Roy has them in his shoulders and his neck. He is trim since Vegas. Like, when I took him to Vegas he was fatter. He has way more muscle and is way more in shape.”
Part of Roy’s improved conditioning stems from Roy spending the summer in Oakdale, where the temperature can hit the mid-90s this time of year.
After bucking in the championship round on Wednesday night, Moreno will take Roy to the Santa Barbara Touring Pro Division event on Aug. 6 and the BFTS event in Tucson, Arizona, on Oct. 2-3. Other than that, Moreno says he is unsure where else Roy will buck before Finals.
Moreno believes Roy’s feistiness is now transferring over into confidence. Instead of demanding attention from Moreno on the ranch, he is now rushing onto the trailer when the trailer swings open.
It is a good sign, and Roy may not like to hear it, but Moreno paid his bull the ultimate compliment Tuesday morning after tending to his bulls.
“I really think he looks like a young Bushwacker,” Moreno said. “He is smaller, but he is damn sure in shape.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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