The cowboys of the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour head to Tropical North Queensland for the 2019 Cairns Invitational this Saturday night.
After spending the past two weekends competing in the team and knockout formats of bullriding, twenty-two riders from four nations will battle it out over three rounds of aggregate competition for the 2019 Cairns Invitational Champions buckle.
The action kicks off inside the Cairns Convention Centre at 7:30 p.m local time (AEST) with a handful of tickets still available from Ticketlink.
If you can’t be in attendance at the Cairns Invitational be sure to tune into RidePass where Luke Kaufman and Wazza Matotek will be broadcasting all the action live.
Checkout this weeks edition of The PBR Rundown to find out what else is happening in the PBR this week.
All 22 cowboys will compete in Rounds 1 and 2, with the top 8 riders returning for the Championship Round. The rider with the highest aggregate total leaves with the buckle.
Take an early look at the Cairns Invitational Daysheet here.
Last season, the 2018 Cairns Invitational was the final qualification event for Team Australia heading into the Global Cup in Sydney. Cloncurry’s Jason Mara was red-hot heading into the weekend, and he kept the ball rolling, finishing 2-for-3 after declining a re-ride option on the final out of the night.
Mara led the field into the Championship Round thanks to 84.25 points on Keliher Bucking Bulls’ google.com in Round 1 and 86.25 points on Dunne Bulls’ Pistol Whip in Round 2. The bulls dominated the Championship Round, eliminating Mara’s opposition and he took home his third win in as many weeks.
Montana’s Matt Triplett finished runner up with Lachlan Richardson and Nathan Burtenshaw splitting third place. Troy Wilkinson was fifth on the night and was the final rider to finish the event 2-for-3.
At the 2018 event, the cowboys covered over 40% of their bulls with the bovines averaging 41.76 bull score.
In the 2017 edition, the bulls were just a tick above at 41.77 with the riders covering 32.69%.
As it was the following year, the 2017 Championship Round pen of bulls also had their way with the Cowboys in the Cairns Invitational Short-go, going 8-for-8 and leaving four riders 2-for-3 on the night.
Atherton’s Kurt Shephard rode Kleier Bucking Bulls’ Gangnam Style for 82.75 points to kick off his night and added a further 83.5 points on Spartan from Brandenburg Bucking Bulls.
Shephard held out Aaron Kleier by just 0.25 points with Brazil’s Robinson Guedes and Budd Williamson finishing close behind.
Who to Watch
Since returning from injury at PBR Origin a fortnight ago, Kurt Shephard has been in great form, covering five of his six bulls to leap into the Top 5 of the PBR Australian National Standings.
After taking out his second career Last Cowboy Standing tournament last weekend in Brisbane, the 24-year-old heads north for his home event full of confidence and hoping to add another Cairns Invitational win to his resume.
It’s hard to believe that despite riding at a very high riding percentage of 62.96%, Clermont’s Aaron Kleier has not won an event since he won the 2018 Adelaide Invitational back in December last year.
The 2018 PBR Australian National Champion has been very sticky over the past two months of competition, covering seven of his last ten bulls. With the No. 1 ranking in the country in his sights, I don’t think it will be too long until we see Kleier back in the winners’ circle.
View the current PBR Australia Standings here.
One rider who bounced back in a big way at Last Cowboy Standing was Tamworth’s Lachlan Slade.
The 25-year-old talent was brilliant in the early rounds, covering Wallace Bucking Bulls’ Super Natural for an event-high 88.5 points and Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls’ Silver Lining for 84.5 points. Slade held nothing back in the Championship Round with Dittmann Bucking Bull’s Fully Locked & Loaded needing 4.77 seconds and a 45 point bull score to get the bull rider off his back.
After suffering Round 1 eliminations last weekend at Last Cowboy Standing, Nebo’s Mitchel Paton and Upper Horton’s Troy Wilkinson will be aiming to record a solid finish in Cairns. Both riders are firmly embedded in the Top 10 on the PBR Australian National Standings leaderboard but need to make sure they maintain contact with the ranking leaders.
Returning from a few weeks away from the Monster Energy Tour will be Gresford’s Lachlan Richardson who remains third in the PBR Australian National Standings. The seven-time PBR World Finals Qualifier had bucked off four straight bulls, but it won’t be long until a refreshed and rested Richardson breaks that unwanted streak.
Tomorrow we will take a look inside the 2019 Cairns Invitational Bull Pen.