ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood was all smile four months ago when he shared the stage with 2017 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser inside T-Mobile Arena as the top athletes of the PBR.
The respect for the two-time World Champion Bull is still very much there, but there is an ever-increasing frustration building inside Lockwood.
Lockwood has bucked off Bruiser in all three of their meetings at all levels of PBR competition, and it is safe to say the PBR has its next rider vs. bull rivalry in the making.
“That sucker,” Lockwood said Friday in Albuquerque. “One of these times. I am choosing him until I ride him. After I ride him, I am going to keep choosing him. I have known since the first time I got on him that he is the real deal. That is the best bucking bull in the world for a reason.”
The more he is asked about Bruiser, the more the red frustration flushes over the 20-year-old’s cheeks.
Lockwood stated before the season that one of his goals this year was to conquer the rankest bulls in the PBR on a consistent basis.
So far, though, he has yet to make 8 seconds on Bruiser, the rankest bull in the PBR that riders dream to match-up with in the championship round or 15/15 Bucking Battles.
Bruiser, who knocked out Lockwood last year in Springfield, Missouri, for a 47.25-point score, has been ridden 11 times on the premier series in 52 career outs, including two times this season for 88.75 points (Cody Nance) and 93.75 points (Ryan Dirteater).
The 7-year-old bovine superstar has surrendered nine 90-point rides in his premier series career, and Lockwood wants to put his name up there with the best of them that have ridden him.
In particular, Lockwood would love to mimic what Stormy Wing did last year at the Ty Murray Invitational.
Wing rode Bruiser for a career-high 95.25 points in Albuquerque for the event win, posting one of the top rides during the PBR’s 25-year history.
Twenty-two riders have scored higher, but the 95.25-point score is the fifth-highest numerical scored ride when you take away the multiple riders that have earned 96.5, 96, 95.75 and 95.5 points.
“If I ride that bull, I am going to be all of 96,” Lockwood said. “There is no question I will be 95 easily. 96. Potentially 96.5.”
There are only 10 96-plus rides in PBR history. The all-time ride record is 96.5 points, which has been done four times.
It would be a fitting location to do so as well.
This is the 22nd edition of the Ty Murray Invitational, which is the second-longest running PBR event.
Bruiser – the No. 1 bull in the 2018 World Champion Bull Race – is slated to compete in the championship round on Sunday at The Pit. So too is world No. 2 bull Pearl Harbor.
Lockwood is tied for the event lead heading into Round 2 on Saturday night and said he will pick Bruiser if the opportunity arises during Championship Sunday.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider has drawn Short Night for Round 2. Fans can watch Round 2 exclusively on Ridepass beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Bruiser is averaging 46.08 points in his last three Unleash The Beast outs since Nance rode him for the event win in Anaheim, California.
One of those outs came against Lockwood two weeks ago in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Bruiser won that meeting with relative ease as he bucked off Lockwood in 4.68 seconds and a 46.5-point bull score when he turned back away from Lockwood’s hand.
“I don’t ride with my knees very well and with him you have to,” Lockwood said. “Just that transition when he goes back right. My body really easily knows how to ride him to the left. I have to keep it in my mind that he is going to come right and he is going to do something. Just let my body take voer left and then get tough and gritty when he goes back right.”
Lockwood then spits off to the side.
Just the thought of the buckoff has him biting his tongue once again.
Bruiser’s 46.5 points in Little Rock was a season-high, and Dillon Page believes the superstar bull is starting to turn things around after a slow start to the season.
“When he got Jess in bad shape, I thought he just backed off, but the judges marked him better there (than at Iron Cowboy),” Page said. “I don’t know. I don’t even think anything about it anymore. I used to. I used to let it bother me. Now it is a deal I go to. We do the best we can and hopefully the bull is in his best shape. However it works out is how it works out.”
D&H Cattle Company had hauled Bruiser to the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, where Bruiser rebounded with buckoffs of Chase Dougherty (7.09 seconds) and Tate Smith (5.39 seconds), following Nance’s ride.
Page believes getting Bruiser back on the road has been good. Bruiser is attempting to become the third bull in PBR history to have won three World Champion Bull titles.
“Well, I think he has finally gotten in shape again,” Page said. “We started a little too fat like always. It seems like it is coming together. He is one of those that likes to buck more than stay at home. That is what we are doing. Hopefully, we won’t do it too much.”
Albuquerque will be his fourth consecutive weekend of work after bucking off 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel in 6.15 seconds last week in Duluth, Georgia, for a 45.75-point bull score.
Bruiser traveled over 20,000 miles last year on his journey to becoming only the second bull in history to win top bull honors in the PBR and PRCA in the same season.
“He handles the road real, real well,” Page said. “It don’t bother him if he is here or at home in his pen. He will always eat what you feed him. I don’t think he really gets tired.”
For Lockwood to get in the 95-96-point range, Bruiser will almost certainly need to be in the 46.5-47-point bull score zone.
Bruiser was marked 46.75 points last year with Wing, but he does average 46.75 points with Lockwood underneath him.
“There are guys that get him rode, but he bucks his hardest with me,” Lockwood said. “He is awesome. Shoot I am 130 pounds. It does make a difference in bulls. A little tiny bit. My riding style, I am really loose and light. He doesn’t really feel me and throws me around kind of.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.