After a hectic final two months of Monster Energy Tour action, the best 22 bull riders in the country return to the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre for Night 1 of the 2020 PBR Australia Grand Finals.
Tonight, we will see the first two long rounds of competition. Round 1 appears to be set up nicely for the riders to post a bunch of scores, but the bull power increases considerably for Round 2. I think this will be the round where the 2020 PBR Australian National Championship and Grand Finals Event Title will be won or lost.
There are so many great matchups tonight. Here are a few of my favourites:
Round 1 Matchups
Lachlan Slade on Top Deck (Kleier Bucking Bulls):
The Warwick talent has drawn nicely in the opening ride of the night. Top Deck has had three trips in PBR Australia competition and allowed two scores. Both belong to right-handed riders for 84.5 and 83.25-point scores. He will spin to the right and into Slade’s hand. Slade picked up the round win in the corresponding round at last season’s Grand Finals, and a score here will get his aggregate campaign off to a good start.
Braydon Wellby on Scooby Doo (Kleier Bucking Bulls):
Wellby has ridden over 50% of his bulls this season, and he hasn’t been far away from adding a few more qualified rides to his tally with some long buck-off times. Here he will face Scooby Doo who is unridden in his four-out career with most of his wins coming around the 4-second mark of the ride. He has been making the turn back to the right, which will suit the Townsville bull rider.
Jackson Gray on Get A Haircut (Diamond J Rodeo Co.):
The Barcaldine young-gun rode very well last weekend in Airlie Beach, and he gets the chance to maintain that momentum here with a rematch against Get A Haircut. This pair matched up earlier this season in Bundaberg where Gray was 87-points on his way to picking up his maiden event win. The bull has had just the two trips in PBR Australia competition and is expected to turn back away from his hand, but the rookie has looked good riding in both directions.
Jake Curr on Iron Jacket (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
Iron Jacket and Curr have met up twice this season with the Mount Isa bull rider emerging with a score on both occasions. In Mackay, he was 82.5 points, and in Toowoomba, he was 81.5 points. The bull gets ridden over 50% of the time for an average score of 85.61 points. He prefers a spin to the left which will be into Curr’s hand, and if they can combine for another qualified ride, it should go close to wrapping up the Rookie of the Year race.
Kurt Shephard on Bucksnort (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
Shephard has been riding well over the past few weeks, covering four of his last seven bulls. Here he has Bucksnort who we have seen ridden just twice from his ten PBR Australia trips. Last weekend in Airlie Beach, Aaron Kleier posted an 85.5 point score to win the second event long round. That will be a pretty good score in this round, and the Mareeba cowboy is usually at his best under the bright lights.
Cody Heffernan on Drag Iron (Dunne Bulls):
Heffernan has only made the one qualified ride since returning from a long injury layoff, but he looks to be getting back into a rhythm. I don’t think it will be long until he goes on a run of 8-second rides. Drag Iron has put together some very nice performances this season averaging 42.38 points across his four trips. He likes to turn back to the right, and that will be to the right-handed Singleton cowboy’s advantage.
Aaron Kleier on Bad Moon (Dunne Bulls):
The no. 1 bull rider in Australia has been on fire since the Beaudesert event, recording seven qualified rides from eleven attempts. Kleier has also posted five round wins in the past two months. Here the Clermont talent takes on Bad Moon, who has been covered just once in his three career outs. Left-handers own the only score, and that was for 85 points and a round win last week. This bull does prefer an anticlockwise spin, and it’s not often that we see Kleier fall short riding into his hand.
Brady Fielder on Going Under (Dunne Bulls):
Fielder is another rider that has been riding well since Beaudesert, covering five bulls from ten attempts. Going Under has been ridden in both of his career trips with scores of 83 and 86 points recorded. He looks to prefer a left-handed spin, which means that the Clermont bull rider will have to get it done away from his hand, but as we saw in Beaudesert when Lachlan Richardson took this bull to the round win, it’s very possible.
Lachlan Richardson on Annihilation (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls):
It hasn’t been the best fortnight for the Gresford cowboy, bucking off four straight long round bulls and handing up the lead in the 2020 Australian National Standings. Annihilation has been ridden eight times in his career, and right-handed riders have a pretty good success rate owning seven of those scores. This bull will turn back to the right and will spin fast into Richardson’s hand.
Round 2 Matchups
Jackson Gray on Black Tuxedo (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
Gray has another rematch in the second round. Earlier this season in Bundaberg, Gray combined with Black Tuxedo for 87.5 points. The bull has allowed just four scores in his eighteen out career, and while he mostly turns back to the right, left-handed riders own half of the qualified rides. The bull has bucked off his last five cowboys with the average buck off coming at 5.06 seconds. This matchup should be a lot of fun.
Kelsey Pavlou on Gangatino (Brandenburg and MJ Bucking Bulls):
The Toola young gun has had a terrible run of unsuitable bulls over the past month of competition, but here he draws a rematch with Gangatino. They last met up in the short-round of the event in Caboolture that Pavlou won, and they went at it for 6.16 seconds. This bull likes to turn back to the right, which will be into Pavlou’s hand, and even though he does have a trick or two up his sleeve, right-handed riders cover him over 50% of the time.
Lane Mellers on Trust Issues (Kleier Bucking Bulls):
Mellers is another rider who has struggled with the luck of the draw over the past couple of months. Here in the second long round, he will face Trust Issues, who is unridden in two trips, but by no means unrideable. This bull has been making the turn back to the right, which should suit the Mundubbera bull rider. He has posted back-to-back 42-point bull scores so a qualified ride will place Mellers well after the first night.
Brady Fielder on Cattle King Ray Ban (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
I am looking forward to this matchup. Cattle King Ray Ban is as honest as they come, and Fielder continues to build momentum. This bull has been ridden four times in his last six performances for an average ride score of 84.25 points. The big question is, which direction will Ray Ban spin this week? Leading into the Airlie Beach event he looked to prefer an anticlockwise spin, but last weekend he turned back sharply to the right. Either way, I think Fielder makes it work.
Kurt Shephard on Notorious (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls):
This looks a challenging rematch opportunity for Shephard, but he is travelling much better than last time he was up against Notorious. That came at Caboolture in his return from injury and a long stint on the sidelines. This bull has bucked off 17 of his last 18 opponents with the only score of 84.5 points going to Sam Woodall. He prefers to make the turn back to the left, which will put him into Shephard’s hand.
Lachlan Richardson on Cattle Kin Boogers Beach (Dittmann Bucking Bulls):
These two do have history, with Cattle King Boogers Beach eliminating Richardson from the Iron Cowboy competition in Round 1 at the beginning of the 2020 season. Since then, the bull has gone on to add a further six cowboys to his list of wins with the average buck off time sitting at 3.82 seconds. In his first season, this bull has also averaged a bull score of 43.29 points. He will make the turn back to the right and into Richardson’s hand, but the seven-time PBR World Finals qualifier will need to bring his a-game to get him done.
Aaron Kleier on Mighty Whitey (Wallace Bucking Bulls):
We close out the round with another rematch. This one went down at Burnett Heads back in 2019 where Kleier was awarded 83.5 points for his ride on Mighty Whitey, but since then, the bull has bucked off 15 straight riders at an average of 2.91 seconds. I don’t think the bull has shown his best trips over the past few months, and I believe that getting back onto a much firmer surface will improve his tempo. Expect the bull to make the turn back into Kleier’s hand, just as he did in their previous meeting.