Best bull provides wild ride
EIGHT seconds. That's all you have to last to make a registered ride on a rodeo bull.
For years Australia's best bull riders have been trying to last eight seconds on the Willowbank-based bull Suicide.
For years no-one has managed more than six.
The five-year-old black and white Longhorn-Banteng cross bull has been unsuccessfully ridden by the cream of Australian bull riders, and earlier this month by professionals from America. None came close to conquering him.
Unlike most top bulls, Suicide wasn't bred for the job. He was caught wild before rodeo contractor Kerry Hall took him in.
"He was the wildest animal we've ever had. The wildest animal I've ever seen," Mr Hall said.
"He'd pace a track around the paddock in a ring like a lion, and if you got too close to him he'd be over the fence and gone like a shot."
After bolting from his pen, once Suicide managed to evade his new owners for weeks in scrub around the Willowbank property.
While years of dealing with people on a daily basis has calmed him, Suicide is still far from tame.
Mr Hall said while he had had doubts himself that Suicide would ever be tame enough to perform in a rodeo, the bull proved all doubters wrong.
"Suicide is at least the equal of the best bull I've ever owned," he said.
"He's an athlete unlike any other bull we've had. From a standing start he'll clear a fence. It's amazing - he's like a horse."
Current National Rodeo Association bull ride champion Frazer Babbington has been closer than most to staying on Suicide.
Still, he's barely breached the five-second mark.
"I've ridden him twice now and I think I've only stayed on for four and a half, maybe five seconds," he said.
"He's real electric. He's just so quick. He scoops out of the box and he's away."
Suicide's breed is unusual, a cross between a Texas Longhorn and an Indonesian Banteng.
Weighing in around 600kg, Suicide is lighter than other top bulls and one of the smallest in stature of Mr Hall's top stock.
Rather than his size, Mr Hall said it was his speed that terrorised riders.
He changes direction and fakes switches at a speed that stuns even his owner.
"We know what we're looking for in a bull ride. We watch it almost every weekend. We know what he's doing and we still don't see it."
Mr Boddington agreed Suicide's small size, combined with his electric speed, made him hard to ride.
"He's small and real athletically built. You can't get the same grip on him you can around some of the bigger bulls.
"I think it's because of that banteng in him. There have been a few other banteng bulls on the circuit and they're all tough to ride."
It isn't just Australia's best riders that have struggled against Suicide.
He, along with five of Mr Hall's best bulls, was taken to Professional Bull Riding exhibitions in Brisbane and Newcastle earlier this month.
There, some of the top American and Canadian riders joined Australia's best, and still no one could stay on Suicide.
"One Canadian rider said to me he's never come across a bull that could throw him off the front of him before," Mr Hall said.
Mr Boddington, who is sitting third in PBR Australia, was full of praise for the foreign riders who drew Suicide, but admitted they couldn't come close to lasting the eight seconds.
Despite not lasting on his previous two rides, Mr Boddington said he could barley wait for his next go at Suicide.
"I can't wait to give him another go. There are a couple of other bulls I've managed to take on my third ride; hopefully I can get Suicide too.
"If not, maybe by my fourth or fifth go I sure hope I'll have him worked out," he said.