2019 Grafton Invitational Preview

The Aussie PBR Event PreviewThe Aussie PBR Event Preview

This Saturday, PBR Australia brings their Monster Energy Tour back to the Northern Rivers for the 2019 Grafton Invitational.

The event will commence at 7:00 pm at the Grafton Showgrounds, and it will be broadcast live on RidePass.

Event History

It has been two years since PBR Australia last visited Grafton.

In 2017, it was Lachlan Slade (Tamworth, NSW) who emerged victorious after he produced a perfect 2-for-2 performance in the Jacaranda City. Slade held off Nathan Burtenshaw (Coonamble, NSW) who rode four bulls to fill the second and the third places on dual entries.

Bradie Gray (Tamworth, NSW) recorded the first event win of his career when he took out the 2016 event.

Event Format and Points Available

Twenty-one riders will contest the two-round event with all riders facing two bulls each.

There is a maximum of 600 points available towards the 2019 PBR Australian National Standings, plus 170 World Points up for grabs to any single cowboy. 

The Field

Clermont’s Aaron Kleier leads the way in the standings as he looks to become the first rider to win back-to-back Gold Buckles since David Kennedy in 2009 and 2010. The 20-year-old has produced Top-5 finishes at his last four events courtesy of a 50% riding success rate.

No. 2 raked Brady Fielder has used consecutive event wins at Newcastle and Cunnamulla to close the gap between himself and Kleier. The Clermont bull rider is 4-from-5 since returning from competing in North America and holds an almost insurmountable lead in the 2019 Rookie of the Year race.

Despite being shut-out last week in Cunnamulla, Gresford’s Lachlan Richardson remains in the fourth position in the rankings after recording excellent results in Newcastle and Burnett Heads. He remains in the hunt for the 2019 title as does Lachlan’s older brother Cliff Richardson who has also been riding well. Cliff finds himself in the sixth spot after picking up cheques at five of his last six appearances in PBR completion.

Mundubbera cowboy Lane Mellers has climbed up four places in the standings leaderboard and into seventh. The 2018 Rookie of the Year has had an outstanding couple of months finishing in the Top-5 at six of his last seven events. Another rider that has jumped up the rankings is Tamworth’s Ethan Watts. The 27-year-old picked up his first event in at Burnett Heads and backed that up with a runner up finish in Cunnamulla to now sit 10th in the country.

Fraser Babbington finds himself with a great chance to qualify for the 2019 PBR Australia Grand Finals after winning in Newcastle 5 weeks ago. The Kiwi bull rider currently sits on the bubble in 18th place on the Australian Standing leaderboard.

Injury Report

The No.3 ranked Cody Heffernan will once again absent as he continues to deal with a knee injury which he suffered at Rockhampton in May and re-aggregated in Newcastle last month.

No. 9 ranked Mitchel Paton is also missing from the draw after he suffered numerous injuries in a wreck at a rodeo last month.

The Bull Pen

The pen of bulls for Grafton is headed by the reigning Stock Contractor of the Year TnR Bucking Bulls as they look to secure back to back titles. 

It looks as though it will be a very competitive bull team completion with Northern Tablelands contractors Maynes Bucking Bulls and Kasper Bucking Bulls both making the journey.

Grafton-born stock contractor Dan Klabe will return home with a team while Hall Rodeo Company will make the trip down from Queensland.

Matchups

Check back on Friday for a full break down the daysheet for the 2019 Grafton Invitational.

Coverage

Don’t forget that I will be providing updates in the Ride the Rage Score Center from 7 pm AEST on Saturday or check back on Sunday afternoon for my wrap-up.