After a short break for the PBR Finals Week, the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour resumes this weekend in Tamworth, New South Wales with the third instalment of Iron Cowboy.
The Country Music Capital will host 52 of PBR Australia’s best bulls and 28 Australian and International riders as they go head-to-head until we crown a champion.
The Iron Cowboy was previously held in Townsville, Queensland, but with the Grand Finals to be held there next week, Tamworth gets its chance to host one of PBR Australia’s most exciting events.
With a new venue, comes a new format for Iron Cowboy. The champion will now be crowned through a bracket-style competition.
Iron Cowboy pits riders against one another with the objective of either achieving the highest-scored qualified ride in the matchup or staying on the bull the longest to advance.
Iron Cowboy Event Format
- 28 riders will face off against their opponent in Round 1.
- The 14 winning riders plus the 2 losing riders with the highest scores/times in Round 1 will progress to Round 2.
- The 8 winning riders from Round 2 will then progress to the Championship Round.
- The rider with the highest ride score in the Championship Round will be crowned PBR Australia’s Iron Cowboy.
- Event and Round Points towards the PBR Australian National Standings will be awarded on the Aggregate Leaderboard.
With inaugural PBR Australia Iron Cowboy champion Troy Wilkinson (2016) ruled out with injury, 2017 Event Champion and current PBR Australia No.1 ranked Aaron Kleier (Clermont, QLD) will head to Tamworth hoping to make it back-to-back victories.
Last November, it was Lucas Divino (Nova Crixás, BRA) who produced a perfect 3-for-3 night to take out the 2017 Tamworth Invitational. The Brazilian talent’s win was punctuated with a massive 90.75 point ride on Hillbilly Deluxe in the Championship Round. Divino returns to Australia this week and is currently ranked 9th in the PBR Australian National Standings.
The Championship Race
Aaron Kleier leads his closest rivals Cliff Richardson (Gresford, NSW) by 1038.32 points and Fraser Babbington (Gisborne, NZ) is a further 49.17 points back.
Cody Heffernan (Singleton, NSW) is the only other rider remaining in the hunt for the Australian National Title, 1214.99 points adrift of Kleier.
There are a maximum of 700 points available to any rider at the Iron Cowboy event so while nobody can catch Kleier this weekend, Richardson, Babbington and Heffernan must make up ground on Kleier if they have Gold Buckle aspirations.
This is also the last opportunity for those ranked outside the Top-18 in the PBR Australian National Standings to qualify for next weekend’s PBR Australia Grand Finals in Townsville.
You can view the Official PBR Daysheet HERE.
Iron Cowboy Round 1 Matchup Previews
Budd Williamson on Kit Carson vs Kurt Shephard on Stetson Little
This is a tough matchup to kick things off. There is very limited information available for both these bulls. Stetson Little has only been out once where he made quick work of Ethan Watts in Blackall while we have seen riders get a little further on Kit Carson.
I am leaning Shephard’s way as he has been riding very well since returning from injury and is currently the rider in 18th place. In saying that, it would not be a shock to see Williamson progress.
Junio Quaresima on Feel The Fire vs Jay Borghero on Train Wreck
This is another set of bulls that we have only seen out a couple of times. The Brazilian Quaresima heads to Australia for a second time after scoring three top-10 finishes from four starts last summer.
We saw his draw Feel The Fire ridden in Blackall for 83.5 by Aaron Kleier. Train Wreck can mix up his trips.
Jay Borghero is one of the many riders ranked outside of the top-18, so he simply has to have this is he wants to be guaranteed of a spot in Townsville next weekend.
Mitchel Paton on Bomb Proof vs Ethan Watts on Ramblin’ Ways
We have seen Bomb Proof out twice with both riders coming down quickly. He tends to throw plenty of curveballs at the rider straight out of the gate while Ramblin’ Ways has a bit more of a set trip. Ramblin’ Ways generally turns back to the right but can bring a rider down early with a big jump out of the chutes.
I will go with Paton to advance from this matchup. He has been in good form recording 4 top-3 finishes since June.
Rubens Barbosa on Gravel Rash vs Oscar Leake on Cherry Ripe
Barbosa will go up against Gravel Rash who is a bull that we have seen a lot of but only one rider has made 8-seconds in his 10 PBR outs. That was Justin Lloyd at the Global Cup for 81.25 but good riders do get a long way into the ride with 6+ second buck-offs common.
Leake also has a nice draw with qualified rides being recorded on Cherry Ripe in both of his trips. Brock Radford put up 82.75 points at the Global Cup while Cliff Richardson will be able to pass on some first-hand information after going for 83-points in Newcastle.
I will go with experience over youth in this matchup.
Cody Heffernan on Monstrous Nightmare vs Toby Leake on Buck
Heffernan will face off with a bull that is having his first PBR out while Leake will get aboard the well known Buck. Buck has been ridden four times in his nine outs at PBR level. Luciano de Castro rode him for 83.25 points at the Global Cup and Braydon Wellby went 84.5 points in Newcastle with the bull faking right and turning back to the left both times.
I am leaning Heffernan’s way as he has been on fire in the second half of the season but the unknown nature of Monstrous Nightmare means that Leake has a shot.
Justin Paton on Western Ways vs Sonny Schafferius on Chocolate Thunder
Western Ways has put up some nice bull scores in his first two buck-offs at PBR level while Chocolate Thunder always keeps the cowboys honest so this should be a good matchup.
Schafferius finds himself in the bubble race to qualify for the PBR Australia Grand Finals while Paton has spent much of the second half of the year campaigning overseas.
I am leaning towards Schafferius here. I think his draw suits him better as they take Chocolate Thunder back to the Right delivery.
Cliff Richardson on Ransom 2 vs Wayne Crisp on Stir Crazy
Both of these riders have good draws here but I will go with Richardson to advance. He will be determined to make ground on Kleier before we head to Townsville next week.
Ransom 2 has been covered three times in five outs with Cody Heffernan taking the bull to 7.8 seconds at the last event in Dubbo.
Should Richardson falter, Crisp should be right there to pounce with rider favourite Stir Crazy who has been ridden four times in nine outs. I just think Richardson will want this one a bit more.
Ryan Storey on Dark Destroyer vs Rohan Markham on Roadrunner
Dark Destroyer has been a tough bull to get by with only one rider going the distance in ten outs across the past 12 months of PBR competition. Roadrunner has also been a tough draw for riders, allowing only one qualified ride in five attempts.
Storey took home event wins from the last events he attended in Mackay and Rockhampton. He has also ridden six of his last eight bulls.
Markham hasn’t put a lot of scores on the board lately and sits 19th in the standings, but he generally gets a long way into his rides and that is what you need in this format of competition. Siding with Markham here but it could go either way.
Michael Smith on Pain & Gain vs Braydon Wellby on Scene of the Crash
Smith is the current leader in the Rookie of the Year races but looks to have the tougher of the two matchups here. Pain & Gain has only been covered once in his eleven PBR outs and that was nearly 18 months ago at the National Finals.
Wellby will face the more friendly Scene of the Crash who we saw covered twice at Mount Isa back in June but the bull bounced back with a quick buck off in Rockhampton. Wellby will start this matchup as a firm favourite.
You can view the Tamworth Iron Cowboy Daysheet HERE.
Lucas Divino on Django vs Sam Woodall on Big Buck Hunter
Divino went 3-for-3 here in Tamworth last year and it looks as though he has drawn well to get his Australian campaign off to a good start once again here.
Django has only been covered twice in his six outs but his opponents have been ranked much lower than what he will face here with Divino. The bull will be around to the right as they leave the gate and this will be right into Divio’s wheelhouse.
Woodall has also drawn well with Big Buck Hunter covered in his last four outs but I think the Brazilian’s class will prevail here.
Brady Gray on Gangster Jack vs Lane Mellers on Shotgun
This is another matchup where the information on the bulls is scarce. We saw Gangster Jack split his two outs with Mitch Paton making the whistle for 82.50 points at Last Cowboy Standing and Ethan Watts bucking off in Cunnamulla. Shotgun was out twice in Cunnamulla bucking off Bee and Mara in quick time.
Mellers has returned home from competing in the USA and is currently ranked in 23rd spot whilst Gray is returning from injury for his first event since May.
Its a toss of the coin but I will go with Mellers simply because he has been riding competitively.
Bailey Woodard on Russian Roulette vs Lachlan Slade on Hazmat
It is hard to know what Hazmat will bring to the table here. He was on debut in Dubbo and bucked Fraser Babbington off in quick time for a 43-point bull score. Slade hasn’t fired since returning to Australia following his ‘summer run’ in Canada so it is hard for me to side with him here.
Woodard has the much friendlier matchup with Russian Roulette giving up three rides from seven outs. Lucas Divino used an 85.75 point ride on him here last year to put him in a winning spot.
Woodard hasn’t been too far off the mark at recent events and despite the fact that the bull will be away from his hand, I have him winning here.
Fraser Babbington on SweetPro’s Deceptacon vs Matthew Bee on Farm Boy
Babbington is in the midst of an eight-event buck-off streak but I think he has the draw that will help him get the train back on the track. Deceptacon should be around to the right and into Babbington’s hand. He has been only covered twice but most riders make it into the second half of the ride.
Bee has also drawn well with Farm Boy who has been covered in 50% of his outs. Jason Mara was 87-points on him earlier this year on his way to winning at Mount Cotton. Bee is another rider who hasn’t been too far away in the last few events so if Babbington can’t right the ship, he has the right draw to take advantage.
Aaron Kleier on Storm Boy vs Justin Robards on No Deal
A couple of veteran bulls will take on the Cowboys in the last bracket of Round 1. These two bulls have been out a combined 26 times in PBR competition since the 2016 National Finals and have given up just the one ride combined.
Kleier will have his work cut out with Storm Boy. He usually puts in a big fake to the right before turning back to the left with good power and speed. Bull scores upwards of 43.50 are posted regularly. We haven’t seen him since February so I am sure he will be fresh and ready to buck. This is a rematch from Last Cowboy Standing in 2017 where the bull won in 5.98 seconds.
No Deal is in the same boat. Rarely seen this year and only ridden the once at the 2017 National Finals for 85.75 points by Bailey Woodard. This bull doesn’t have the same power as Storm Boy but he has a bit of extra speed.
I will go with Kleier in this matchup and we could see some big numbers.
Iron Cowboy Rounds 2 & 3 Bulls
The Round 2 of the Iron Cowboy draw and the Championship Round are stacked with some of Australia’s best Bucking Bulls.
The battle to become PBR Australia’s Stock Contractor of the Year will play out in these Rounds. The Stock Contractor of the Year title will be awarded based on their top five event averages throughout the season. Only half a point separates the top three contenders for this season’s award.
Dittmann Bucking Bulls and TNR Bucking Bulls will once again go head to head.
The Dittmann Bucking Bulls team will be spearheaded by SweetPros Palooka, SweetPros Fully Locked and Loaded with Call Me Joe and Mr Buckmore leading the way for TNR Bucking Bulls.
Kasper Bucking Bulls will be hoping to cause an upset with SweetPro’s Volatile and SweetPro’s Chemical Weapon in action in the Championship Round while John Gill’s team will be led by High Flying Akubra and Down Under.
You can view the Iron Cowboy Daysheet HERE.
After taking out the Last Cowboy Standing event in Brisbane earlier this year, Cliff Richardson is one cowboy that is proven in this format of the competition. If he progresses out of Round 1, he will face off with Iron Jacket. I think he matches up well with this bull and it should see him through to the Championship Round.
Aaron Kleier will obviously be hard to beat as the defending Iron Cowboy Champion but he does have a tough road through to get through to the Championship Round. With the Gold Buckle on the line, the unridden Night Hawk awaits in Round 2.
Brazilian Lucas Divino looks to have a nice path through the earlier rounds with a favourable matchup to open the event and Coors Light waiting in the following round. Coors Light has been ridden seven times in 13 outs in the last two years.
You can view the Tamworth Daysheet HERE.
I won’t be making the trip down to Tamworth but you can follow along on my Live Updates page from 7 pm ADST on Saturday night where I will once again be posting ride scores and re-posting any pictures and videos I can find online.