The rest of the world now knows what Kent Cox
has known all along - Bushwacker is a World
"I've always thought of that bull as a champion already," said the bull's handler, more than a month removed from the PBR World Finals, "so now he just proved it.
"He truly is, and I guess there is a sense of relief and a sense of accomplishment both. I always thought the bull was special and I always thought he deserved to be a World Champion. You just don't ever know if it's going to happen or not."
It didn't happen in 2010 when Bones seemingly came out of nowhere to win his second World Champion Bull title.
Had he not been retired by owner Tom Teague, Bones could have been in the mix with Bushwacker and Asteroid, the top two bulls of the 2011 season, according to PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert.
'We're going to try and repeat.'
Having come close in the past and not won the title, Cox readily
admits the outcome could have gone either way in Las Vegas.
Though he's focused on the upcoming Built Ford Tough Series, the much-talked-about bull handler paused when asked if the win had actually set in. "It kind of has," said Cox, who also experienced the disappointment of defeat a few years earlier when Troubadour was poised to win the title only to lose out to Bones when he won the first of his two titles.
"I definitely know what it feels like to get beat at the Finals," added Cox, who likened the final two outs of the season for bulls as great Bushwacker and Asteroid to a crapshoot in the casino.
However, looking ahead to 2012, Cox sees no reason why Bushwacker won't be in contention again.
He said the expectation is plain and simple: "We're going to try and repeat."
Bushwacker is currently in Texas with him and will make his season debut in Anaheim, Calif., and will likely be used throughout the West Coast run of events that includes Sacramento, Calif., and Portland, Ore.
When asked about the chances that Bushwacker will become only the third bull to win back-to-back titles and the first since Little Yellow Jacket to win three straight, Cox said, "I expect him to."
"But like I said, it's a long season and weird things happen. Who knows?"
At the 2011 World Finals, Cord McCoy rode Bushwacker 3.39
seconds - enough time for the judges to see what the bull could do.
He scored a career-high 48.5 points.
In his first outing at the Finals, Bushwacker was marked a career-high 48.5 points in Round 3 before clinching the title with a 47.5-point effort in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. Seven other times last year he was marked 46 points or higher, and never less than 45.25 points.
Only three riders got beyond 4 seconds in 2011, with Dustin Elliott coming the closest to making the whistle. He held on 6.57 seconds in Pueblo, Colo., before coming down short of the whistle.
Bushwacker's gone unridden since Thiago Paguioto rode him for 89.75 points at the 2009 World Finals two years ago.
"I think barring injury, he'll be in the running again," Cox said. "You've always got to leave that 'barring injury' in there because bulls that buck as hard as he does, they get hurt sometimes. Heck, (I'm a) Gangster and Major Payne were prime examples of it last year."
Bushwacker competed in 12 BFTS events, the Finals and two Touring Pro events - four more BFTS events than Asteroid - and Cox doesn't see any reason to alter his approach in 2012.
Instead he said that it makes him work that much harder to keep the reigning World Champion Bull in shape and ready to compete.
'If (Bushwacker) keeps up what he's done,
he'll be the best bull that we've ever seen.'
Lambert recently said, "If (Bushwacker) keeps up what he's done, he'll be the best bull that we've ever seen. If he has another year like he had last year - one more year like that - I think he'll go down in history as the best bull we've seen so far.
"If he has two more years like that, I don't think that, I know that he'll go down in history as the best bull we've ever seen."
When told of Lambert's quote Cox smiled. He knows Lambert well enough to know what a compliment like that means.
"I hate to say this out loud," Cox said, "but Cody has always been one of my heroes, even growing up. I really respect Cody a bunch. I don't always agree with what Cody thinks, but I respect him because I know that everything he does is for the betterment of the PBR, I feel like.
"I respect him a great deal, and for Cody to say something like that, it means a lot to me."
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