Ben Bezner said he was ‘speechless” after his European crossbred named Mufasa was crowned grand champion steer Friday afternoon at the Fort Worth Stock Show.
The Junior Steer Show is the most prestigious in Fort Worth, and all but guarantees the youthful winner a six-figure paycheck at Saturday’s Sale of Champions.
The 1,329-pound tan-and-white steer topped a field of 3,600 junior steer entries in this year’s show.
“It’s something I’ve worked toward, my whole life,” Bezner, 17, said as cameras crowded around him. “I feel like I won the Super Bowl.”
Bezner lives with his ranching family in Texline, a tiny town on the Texas-New Mexico border, northwest of Amarillo.
Doug Husfeld, a livestock judge from Fredericksburg, praised the winners for being “super-sound structurally, and muscular.”
It marks the 36th consecutive year that a European crossbred has been named grand champion in Fort Worth.
The reserve grand champion, all 1,369 pounds of him, is real eye-catcher and also a European crossbred. He’s named Del Frisco’s — after the well-known steakhouse that is often a major bidder at the Sale of Champions.
The steers, along with the other top winners in the junior livestock divisions, will be auctioned off at the annual Sale of Champions. The lively event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the West Arena in the Richardson-Bass Building.
‘Hard to let him go’
Bezner, who commutes about 80 miles (round-trip) a day to Dalhart High School, has shown before at Fort Worth, but never with this much success.
“He’s made the sale here before, had some breed champions and reserves at Houston and other shows,” said his father, Mitchel Bezner. “He’s been showing since he was 9.”
The young exhibitor couldn’t help but brag on his handsome steer, named after the kind-hearted lion in the 1994 movie, The Lion King.
“He’s got awesome color, and just everything,” Bezner said. “He’s been my favorite one I’ve ever had. He has an awesome attitude, he’s never lazy and was always up and looking around when I came in the barn.
“It’ll be hard to let him go.”
Bezner blushed when someone asked him what he would do with his winnings.
“Oh, I might have some free college from it,” he said.
Last year’s top steer sold for a record-tying $240,000.
‘Best steer I’ve ever seen’
The runner-up was shown by Austin Breeding, 18, of Miami, another tiny town in the Panhandle, this one on the other side of Amarillo.
“He’s been special since day one. He’s the best steer I’ve ever seen,” Breeding said. “If you want my opinion, he’s perfect.”
Breeding, who has shown at the Stock Show for all 10 years of his showing career, was also strategic in his choice of breeds. Even though his family raises Hereford cattle, Breeding went with a European cross, the perennial winners at the Stock Show.
So his reason for ignoring the family breed was simple.
“Because Herefords don’t have the best chance to win,” Breeding said.
Breeding’s major win completed something of Stock Show trifecta for his family. Austin’s father, Chad Breeding, showed the grand champion steer at the Stock Show in 1982 when, as an 11-year-old, he exhibited the last Hereford to win this show.
And Austin’s grandfather, Bill Breeding, won the Pen of Ten commercial Hereford heifer competition at the Stock Show this year, with his entries from the family operation, B&C Cattle Co.