After the bulls kept the cowboys to a riding percentage of just over 20% last weekend in Caboolture, the riders of the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour will be eager to bounce back today at the 2020 Bundaberg Invitational.
While the 30-rider field remains almost the same, their opponents will differ significantly from what they faced last Saturday. The 1 pm event will see an even mix of new and experienced bulls perform, with the daysheet for 6 pm session featuring a more familiar pen of Central Queensland buckers.
Awaiting the Top-8 riders in the Championship Round is one of the rankest pen of bulls that we will see outside of the PBR Australia Grand Finals, and it has potential to produce some massive scores.
Let’s take a look at some of the must-see long round matchups:
Event 1 Matchups
Michael Smith on Code Blue (Kleier Bucking Bulls)
We haven’t seen much of the Tully bull rider since he finished runner-up in the 2018 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year race, but I think he looked quite good in his return last weekend. Despite coming down early in both events last weekend, Smith wasn’t far away, and I think he matches up well with Code Blue. The bull has been ridden once from his two PBR Australia outs, with 2018 PBR World Champion Kaique Pacheco getting the job done for 82.5 points at the Grand Finals last season. Look for the bull to turn back to the right and into the 23-year-old’s hand.
Lachlan Richardson on Western Sky (Kleier Bucking Bulls)
As expected, Richardson looked in excellent form at Caboolture, riding two of his three bulls and extending his lead in the 2020 PBR Australian National Standings. Once again, the 27-year-old gets a chance to apply early pressure with a friendly draw to start his afternoon. Last season we saw Western Sky buck three times in PBR Australia competition during 2019 with Mitchel Paton and Troy Wilkinson awarded 84.5 and 83 points respectively. We have seen this bull turn back both ways, but I tend to believe that he prefers a left-handed spin. That will be away from Richardson’s hand, but I think he is in too good of form to let this one slip by.
Jack McArthur on Campbells Fully Loaded (Diamond J Rodeo Co.)
The 25-year-old was outstanding in his return to PBR competition last weekend, and he is only going to keep improving as the 2020 PBR Australia Grand Finals draw closer. He faces stiff opposition here against an old foe in Campbells Fully Loaded. The bull has bucked off nine straight riders to remain unridden in PBR Australia competition. McArthur is included on this bull’s resume from their matchup at the 2017 edition of Last Cowboy Standing in Brisbane. This bull doesn’t have a set pattern or a preferred direction of spin. He can leap high in the air or duck and dive his way across the pen; we will have to wait and see. But we can count on the Cooyar cowboy to bring his a-game into what should be a spectacular contest.
Event 2 Matchups
Lachlan Richardson on Double XL (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
This bull looks to be another favourable draw for the right-handed Richardson. Double XL has had just the two trips so far in his PBR Australia career, and he has split the results with the cowboys. Nathan Burtenshaw was the successful rider, posting 84.5 points at the Tamworth Iron Cowboy last season. The bull was around to the right on that occasion, and that is a trend that we should see continue from the left chutes. Look for the Gresford talent to add some flash late in the ride to boost the score by a point or two.
Jake Curr on Suga Boom Boom (BK Bucking Bulls)
Curr has bucked off his last four bulls, but I think he gets a great chance to break the streak here against Suga Boom Boom. The Mount Isa cowboy put together some very nice rides earlier this season, going 2-for-3 to chalk up a fourth-place finish at the Melbourne Invitational. Fellow left-hander Lawson Nobbs rode this bull on New Year’s Eve at Rockhampton for 86.5 points and a round win, and I see no reason why the 20-year-old can’t get his name onto the leaderboard. The bull does have a lot of drop to his action, but he should be to the left and into Curr’s hand not far from the gate.
Matt Hollis on Off The Planet (BK Bucking Bulls)
Hollis looked to get better as the Caboolture event went on last weekend and wound up finishing second in the evening session. That was just the 19-year-old’s second PBR Australia event, and I think he will be a rider to keep an eye on in the race for the Rookie of the Year title. The unridden Off The Planet is another bull that doesn’t seem to have a preferred direction; however, he tends to stay close to the chutes, low to the ground and can also produce a change of direction mid-ride. If the Tamworth young-gun can remain in good shape during the opening stages of the ride no matter which way the bull turns, I think he can be there at the whistle.
Aaron Kleier on Cattle King Ray Ban (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
Heading into the Caboolture events, the last time we saw Kleier buck off two bulls in a row at a regular-season Monster Energy Tour stop was almost 18 months ago. So it’s fair to say that nobody expected him to go 0-for-2 last weekend and the heavy hitters keep coming his way here in Bundaberg. This will be the second time the defending National Champion has nodded aboard Cattle King Ray Ban. The first time was way back at Yass in 2017 at Kleier’s third career PBR Australia event, and the bull posted a massive 45 points in the 2.32 second matchup. Ray Ban always produces an honest trip, and he will give the 22-year-old every chance to win the round. He prefers a right-handed spin, which will be away from Kleier’s hand but challenges like these are where we see the Clermont bull rider shine.