ST. GEORGE — A young bull out of Toquerville’s Diamond G Rodeos introduced himself to the world stage at the Professional Bull Riders World Finals in Arlington, Texas last week.
War Fury had two outs at the “Super Bowl of Professional Bull Riders,” including a run with the No. 3 ranked rider in the event in the championship round.
His high score iced the cake for Cyndi and Steve Gilbert, married co-owners of Diamond G.
“For his first time on a big stage, I was proud of him,” Cyndi said. “I thought he held his own really well. I was proud of him. He’s doing fine considering he’s up against the 80 best.
“Most of the bulls that were in that championship round had a lot more experience in championship rounds. I was just grateful he was given the opportunity to get out there with the big boys. I was a proud mama,” she added.
War Fury danced with a pair of Brazilian riders. On Thursday, he tossed Lucas Divino after just 3.24 seconds. He earned a score of 44.5, even though Divino was dealing with an apparent wrist injury that limited his mobility and kept him from riding out any of his five outs in the competition.
But War Fury’s gem came in the championship round with Marco Eguchi. It was the first time in his six career outs that a rider lasted the full eight seconds to score, but in return, War Fury earned 44.25 points, his third-highest mark. The ride was instrumental in guiding Eguchi to a third place finish in the competition and escalating him to No. 4 world ranking.
The two scores ranked 35th and 57th out of 169 total outs in the event. They boosted his career average score up to 44.38, ranking him No. 24 in the world.
The performance gave the 5-year-old bull a successful first taste of competition in the limelight. Even with social distancing orders in place, AT&T Stadium was still able to house up to 18,000 fans. To this point, War Fury had only competed in smaller events with much smaller crowds and less fanfare and overall production. AT&T Stadium featured professional-grade audio equipment, large crowds and a spacious indoor environment.
It was a big first test in what the Gilberts cautiously hope to be a long career. Age five is typically the beginning of a bucking bull’s prime. As they leading up to the World Finals, War Fury has a long history of bucking success in his bloodline. But there are other variables than just genetics, including the will to compete.
“He’s got the genetics, now he’s got to have the heart and have the right things work for him,” Cyndi said.
On top of having the physical ability, a bull has to have the willingness to compete and a resilience to things like crowds, travel, even temperature change. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, all bets were off with all variables. War Fury was unable to compete in as many events as his owners and trainers would have hoped. Because of this, he traveled less than was expected and didn’t have as much time to acclimate. He experienced fewer weather changes. It even reduced his exposure, which Cyndi says can lower scores because of the lack of familiarity.
The venue even changed, moving from Las Vegas to Arlington. It turned what would’ve been a short trip down I-15 to a similar climate into the longest trip of War Fury’s career to a different biome. On top of that, bulls can get sick, have an accident or simply not want to perform. It was entirely possible for War Fury to not compete at his highest level. But he proved he could run with the top bulls in the world, which just leaves the question of, “what if?”
“You wonder what could have happened if he had more outs,” Cyndi said. “War Fury is just getting his legs under him. The sad thing for me is what would’ve been different had bulls of exquisite talent and capacity been able to do had they had the opportunity to perform more often. You want that year back, and so do the cowboys.”
Professional Bull Riders has no more events in 2020 but resumes competition in January. It will be the second full year of War Fury’s career.
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