The 2019 PBR Australia Monster Energy Grand Finals returns to the Townsville Entertainment & Convention Centre to crown a National Champion on 15-16 November. Action will commence live on RidePass from 8:00 pm AEST on Friday, with Championship Saturday beginning at 7:30 pm AEST.
The race for the Gold Buckle is down to two riders. Can Clermont’s Aaron Kleier go back-to-back? Will Brady Fielder become the first rookie bull rider to win the gold buckle?
Last year it was Lucas Divino who went 4-for-5 win the Grand Finals event title. The Brazilian held off countryman Rubens Barbosa who finished 3-for-5 with Aaron Kleier, Lane Mellers and Kurt Shephard all ending the weekend 2-for-5.
Nathan Burtenshaw was the Event Champion in 2017 in Sydney. He defeated Robinson Guedes, Budd Williamson and Troy Wilkinson by one ride.
In 2016, Robinson Guedes also won by a bull difference. Lachlan Richardson was second with the Paton brothers, Justin and Mitch close behind.
Event Format and Points Available
Twenty-two riders will face an outstanding pen of bucking bulls over two massive nights of competition.
There will be a total of five rounds of competition, two rounds on Friday night, and three rounds on Saturday night. The fifth and final round will be the 8-man Championship Round.
A maximum of 250 points will be available to each round winner with the top rider in the aggregate standings after the Championship Round receiving 1250 championship points.
This event has the unique position in the calendar where it stands at the final event of the 2019 PBR Australia season and as the second event of the Global 2020 PBR season following last weekend’s event in Adelaide.
No. 1 – Aaron Kleier (Clermont, Queensland)
Kleier leads Fielder in the championship race by 1515 points heading into the Grand Finals.
The defending PBR Australian National Champion has put together an ultra-consistent campaign. Kleier has entered 25 PBR Australia events and finished the regular season with four Monster Energy Tour wins and one Touring Pro Division win. The 21-year-old has also added a further sixteen Top-5 finishes and achieved the highest qualified ride rate of the year at 67.86%.
No 2 – Brady Fielder (Clermont, Queensland)
Fielder has been simply outstanding in his PBR rookie season, winning six events on home soil with a riding percentage of 64.44%. He picked up Monster Energy Tour event wins in Newcastle and Mackay and added Touring Pro buckles at Marrabel, Sydney, Mount Isa and Cunnamulla. The 19-year-old is in the midst of a sixteen PBR Australia event run where he has ridden at least one bull and picked up a cheque.
No. 3 – Lachlan Richardson (Gresford, New South Wales)
Despite not winning an event this season, Richardson remained in Championship contention right up until the final weekend of the regular season. The 27-year-old started his 2019 campaign strong, but a mid-season slump saw him lose touch with the leaders. Richardson covered bulls at 44% and has finished runner-up at five events this year. He was Top-7 at a total of fourteen performances.
No. 4 – Cliff Richardson (Gresford, New South Wales)
The perennial title contender added another two PBR Australia event wins to his career tally this season, picking up buckles at the Monster Energy Tour level in Shepparton and Grafton. Richardson finished the regular season with a riding percentage of 53.16% and only missed Top-10 finishes at six of his 21 events. The 28-year-old has covered ten of his last eleven bulls on tour.
No. 6 – Lane Mellers (Mundubbera, Queensland)
Mellers finished his sophomore season strong with four Top-3 finishes from his last six events in Australia. The 2018 Rookie of the Year attended 25 of the 26 PBR Australia regular-season events held in 2019 and covered 37.25% of his bulls. His best finishes of the season came at Last Cowboy Standing in Brisbane and in Grafton where he finished runner-up at both events.
No. 8 – Troy Wilkinson (Upper Horton, New South Wales)
The PBR Australian National Champion of 2017 finished the regular season with ten Top-10 finishes. He bookended his regular season with a season-best runner up finishes in Melbourne and the second event in Adelaide. Wilkinson overcame an injury affected mid-season stretch to finish with a riding percentage of 36.84%.
No. 9 – Will Purcell (Merrijig, Victoria)
The Victorian bull rider competed at just 15 events this year but he made them count taking home four round wins. The 25-year-old scored a big event win in Wodonga thanks to a perfect 3-for-3 performance. He also won the buckle at the Julia Creek Touring Pro. His riding percentage sits at 32% heading into his grand finals.
No. 10 – Mitchel Paton (Nebo, Queensland)
Paton couldn’t quite find the consistency he was looking for early in 2019, but he wound up riding 43.75% of his bulls. He split the win at the inaugural PBR Origin after posting his two highest ride scores of the year to lead Queensland to victory. The 29-year-old was out of action for several months with injury, but he looks to have returned strong with a fourth placing last weekend in Adelaide.
No. 11 – Lawson Nobbs (Moura, Queensland)
Nobbs has spent much of his 2019 season competing overseas, but he has made the most of his Australian event appearances. The 22-year-old picked up the win at the Great Western Touring Pro in his first home event and added a buckle from Mildura just a few weeks ago. Nobbs has finished outside of the money only once and has covered 58.33% of his bulls.
No. 12 – Ethan Watts (Tamworth, New South Wales)
Watts has covered 25% of his bulls this season, and he broke through to pick up his maiden win at Burnett Heads. He also added Top-4 finishes at Traralgon, PBR Origin, Adelaide and Cunnamulla.
No. 13 – Rubens Barbosa (Iaciara, Goias, Brazil)
The 36-year-old began his 2019 campaign in Australia, and he has ventured back several times throughout the year. Barbosa kicked things off with Top-3 finishes in Melbourne and Adelaide. He then returned in the winter and finished in fourth place at Cairns and finished the year with an Australian riding percentage of 54.55%. Barbosa produced one of the best rides ever at the PBR World Finals last weekend, dominating ABBI Classic Champion Chiseled for 95.75 points.
No. 14 – Lachlan Slade (Tamworth, New South Wales)
Slade is another rider who spent most of the year competing overseas. His riding percentage on home soil is 25.81%, and his best results came at Last Cowboy Standing and Cairns where he produced Top-3 finishes.
No. 15 – Nathan Burtenshaw (Coonamble, New South Wales)
In an injury-affected season, we have seen Burtenshaw just eight times at home this year with the bulk of his outs coming across the Pacific. Burtenshaw split the PBR Origin aggregate win and finished runner up at Mildura. The 25-year-old’s riding percentage sits at 38.46%. He also shares the high marked ride of the season after he was marked 89.50 aboard POA Ray Ban in Sydney.
No. 16 – Justin Robards (Bulahdelah, New South Wales)
The 27-year-old has covered 26.09% of his bulls on PBR Australia’s tours this season. Robards scored his first event win in over five years at Traralgon and added Top-10 finishes at the Easter Show, Grafton, Queanbeyan and Wodonga.
No. 17 – Jay Borghero (Beaudesert, Queensland)
Borghero has posted eight Top-8 finishes this season, and he shares the high-marked ride of the season with Burtenshaw. The 25-year-old finished runner up in Mount Isa after combining with Annihilation for 89.5 points.
Due to injuries and retirements, three riders ranked outside of the Top-18 in the National Standings have earned alternate spots in the draw.
No. 19 – Fraser Babbington (Gisborne, New Zealand)
For those that haven’t heard, the 2015 PBR Australian National Champion has announced that this will be his final event. After injury affected the end of his 2018 title campaign and beginning of his 2019 season, we have only seen Babbington a handful of times this year. The proud Kiwi bull rider split the Newcastle Invitational win with Brady Fielder and has ridden 42.86% of his bulls this year.
No. 22 – Budd Williamson (Ayr, Queensland)
The veteran 33-year-old comes to the end of his 14th PBR season ranked just outside the cut line. Williamson’s best results of the year came during the middle of the year where he picked up cheques at five events across a six-event period. His best finish came at his home event in Mackay where he went 2-for-2 to finish in third place.
No. 23 – Sam Woodard (Eidsvold, Queensland)
Woodard has been one of the regulars on tour this season and has picked up nine Top-10 finishes from his 20 events. The 24-year-old is trending upwards and has increased his riding percentage up to 25% from his 2018 level.
The International Invites
Kaique Pacheco (Itatiba, Sao Paulo, Brazil)
This will be the 2018 PBR World Champion’s third visit to Australia. Pacheco’s most recent visit was during his title run where he went 4-for-4 at the PBR Global Cup to claim the aggregate title and lead Team Brazil to victory. The 25-year-old competed at this venue back in 2015 at the Troy Dunn Invitational where he finished runner-up, and he backed that up with a third-place finish a week later at the Brendon Clark Invitational in Newcastle. After injuries had a significant effect on his 2019 season, he will be looking to kick 2020 off with a strong result.
Eduardo Aparecido (Gouvelandia, Goias, Brazil)
Aparecido also had an injury-affected 2019 which resulted in him missing the Top-10 for just the second time since his 2012 rookie season. If his PBR World Finals performance is anything to go by, he is well and truly back. The 29-year-old won two long rounds under the bring lights last weekend with 90+ point scores to finish seventh in the aggregate. Aparecido went 2-for-2 here at the Sydney Global Cup in his first and only visit to Australia.
Brady Sims (Holt, Missouri, USA)
We welcome the 26-year-old back for his first visit to Australia since 2013 where Sims competed in Newcastle, Brisbane and the PBR Australia National Finals in Sydney. His best result on that trip was third placing at the Brisbane Invitational, and he went very close to adding a podium finish in Sydney but was bucked off at 7.8 seconds in the final long round. Sims made his PBR World Finals debut last weekend as an injury alternate, and he told me last week that he is excited to be heading back to Australia.
Cody Rodeo Tyler (Guthrie, Oklahoma, USA)
Tyler will make his Australian debut this weekend, and he heads across the Pacific in good form. The 25-year-old went 2-for-3 in the final Velocity Tour event of the season and took that form to Vegas where he split the rounds against a very tough pen of Classic and Derby bulls. He posted six Top-5 finishes from limited events this season and should fit right into this level of competition.
I will be providing The Morning Line for both nights of competition, and that will be available here on Ride the Rage and the PBR Australia website.
Tune in on RidePass or head to the Ride the Rage Score Center for live coverage on Friday and Saturday night.