PUEBLO, Colo. – 2015 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John doesn’t instill fear or intimidation into the majority of riders on the Built Ford Tough Series. For the most part, riders much rather challenge Long John than take on the volatile Jared Allen’s Air Time.
However, one thing is for sure, the two front runners for the 2016 World Champion bull title have a rare combo of size, strength and athletic ability.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert cautions riders to not underestimate what Long John brings to the table on a weekly basis.
“He is really strong,” Lambert said. “He is probably as athletic as Air Time, but he has a style of bucking that makes him incredibly strong and he does everything right. He is really honest about it, but if you get in a wrong position you can be in a dangerous place on him because he can jerk you down.”
Long John has been ridden only once this season, and that was by two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney for 90.25 points in Oklahoma City.
Longtime stock contractor H.D. Page said Mauney was able to ride Long John’s initial jump and kick first before settling into a rhythm.
Page believes that is the key for any rider trying to conquer Long John.
“I have seen J.B. ride him, and when J.B. kind of went at it like that, I think they got along real good,” Page said. “I had seen him another time try and meet his kick and turn at the same time and that is when he ripped him out of there.”
Since Oklahoma City, Long John has bucked off five consecutive riders, including Mauney for a 46.75-point bull score in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as he dislodged Mauney at the last second (7.56).
Long John is averaging 45.5 points per out this season, and is 27-7 during his three-year BFTS career.
Page reiterated that getting past that jump and kick, which Mauney has successful done twice, remains key.
“That is the trick to riding him,” Page said last month. “You almost need to position yourself while you are in the jump. You just need to ride every bull the same, but his pattern is so much different than most bulls you get on that you have to almost change it up a bit. You need to move your weight to the inside when you are in the air if that makes any sense.
“If you can position yourself in the air, you have a chance to ride him, but if you try to do it any other time you are going to have hell. You have a good chance when he is up in the air right before he drops and kicks. A (rider) better be riding him just like he is going straight during that time. There is a split second there when he kind of levels out at the top of his jump and you have a chance to position yourself for the next turn.”
Long John’s high kick and steep drop would rival some of the best rollercoasters at Six Flags, but it has proven he can be conquered.
Mauney and J.W. Harris have ridden him twice, while Nathan Schaper, Douglas Duncan and Guilherme Marchi also have reached the 8-second mark on Long John at the Built Ford Tough Series level.
Schaper rode Long John for 89 points in Kansas City, Missouri, last year and said being aggressive right when the gate cracks open goes a long way in helping a rider potentially reach 8 seconds.
“It comes down to you get on these caliber of bulls sometimes and you get pretty timid,” Schaper said. “If you treat him like any other bull and are super aggressive right of the gate on him you are going to be fine. You at least aren’t going to get throttled by him. Yeah he is big and scary and jumps high in the air, but you have to be so aggressive on him and not timid. If you are even a little bit timid it is not going to work.”
Earlier this summer, Long John bucked off Derek Kolbaba in 4.75 seconds during the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge BlueDEF Tour event in Decatur, Texas.
Long John was marked 45.5 points.
Kolbaba did a good job in the opening seconds climbing to the front of Long John as the defending World Champion Bull came out of the chute strong and honest. The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider simply ran out of arm as Long John kept coming at him with kick after kick.
“Shoot, he gets pretty steep when he kicks and I just needed to get sat down a little more and set up my base a little better than I did,” Kolbaba said. “When I didn’t, my feet come up pretty quick and it all went to hell and a handbasket.”
Page said the plan this summer is to get Long John in prime shape for the second half of the BFTS, which resumes on Aug. 19 in Nashville with the Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires, by bringing him to a few rodeos.
Long John was marked 46 points at the Belle Fourche, South Dakota, PRCA event for taking care of business against J.W. Spears. He also bucked off Adam Lucero in Belle Fourche.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Throughout the month of July, PBR.com, and the PBR’s social media channels, will be featuring a variety of bulls in the race for the 2016 World Championship, as well as some of the other rankest bovines in the business.
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