Game Notes: Monster Energy Rockhampton Invitational

Buckin’ in the Beef Capital

Australia’s best bull riders and bucking bulls return to Rockhampton, QLD. this Saturday night for a night of Monster Energy Tour action.

The event will be the first PBR Australia event held at Browne Park since the 2015 Pro Bull Riders Live Series Final.

This will be the third time that PBR Australia has stopped in Rockhampton during the 2018 season with the Rockin’ Rocky New Year’s Eve and Beef Australia events held at the Great Western Hotel.

With only four events left until a National Champion is crowned at the PBR Australia Grand Finals in Townsville on 23-24 November, riders will be giving it all in Rockhampton.

Gates will open at 5 pm AEST on Saturday 22 September with bulls bucking from 7 pm.

 

Past Winners

When the PBR last visited Browne Park, it was Fraser Babbington (Gisborne, NZ) who produced a 2-for-3 performance the win in the 2015 Pro Bull Riders Live Series Final.

Back in May this year, Jason Mara (Cloncurry, QLD) was the only cowboy to go 2-for-2 to take out the 2018 Beef Australia PBR at the Great Western Hotel.

The New Year’s Eve champion was Bailey Woodard (Dingo, QLD) who took home the buckle at Rockin’ Rocky.

At the 2017 Great Western Hotel Showdown, it was Aaron Kleier (Clermont, QLD) who produced his own 1-2 finish going 4-for-4 across his two entries.

 

Last Time Out

Veteran Ryan Storey (Mackay, QLD) produced a career-high 90.5-point ride on POA Fully Locked & Loaded in the Championship Round to take out the 2018 Monster Energy Mackay Invitational.

Budd Williamson (Ayr, QLD) and Mitchel Paton (Nebo, QLD) filled minor placings with 2-for-3 performances.

Home Sweet Home – Storey wins in Mackay

 

Tight Title Race

With 600 points on the line this weekend, the Rockhampton Invitational will have major championship implications. The Top-3 in the PBR Australian National Standings are separated by less than 700 points, creating a title race that will go all the way to Townsville.

2017 PBR Australia Runner-up and Rookie of the Year Aaron Kleier leads the way on 4298.32 points courtesy of 6 event wins and 17 top 5 finishes so far in the 2018 season.

Cliff Richardson (Gresford, NSW) returns from the USA to resume his pursuit of a maiden Australian Champion Buckle and sits in second place, 638.32 points adrift.

Fraser Babbington, who is currently competing in the USA and will not be competing in Rockhampton, sits in third, a further 49.17 points back.

Cody Heffernan (Singleton, NSW) is currently ranked No. 4 in the standings with 2663.33 points, just 1634.99 points behind Kleier. Jason Mara rounds out the top 5 with 1710 points earned.

 

On the Bubble

Only the top 22 riders on the PBR Australian National Standing’s guaranteed a spot at November’s Grand Finals in Townsville. Rockhampton will be a crucial event for riders hoping to qualify.

Ryan Storey was the big mover from last weekend in Mackay, moving from 25th all the way into the 13th spot on the leaderboard.

No. 24 Kurt Shephard (Atherton, QLD), No. 27 Jay Borghero (Beaudesert, QLD) and No. 28 Roy Dunn (Proserpine, QLD) all sit within 200 points of current No. 22 Lane Mellers (515.0 points).

The lowest ranked rider inside the top 22 competing in Rockhampton is Sonny Schafferius (Dysart, QLD). Schafferius is ranked 19th in the standings with 683.33 points.

 

Rookie of the Year

Michael Smith (Tully, QLD) currently leads the Rookie of the Year race and holds down the 14th spot in the standings.

125-points behind Smith is Lachlan Slade (Warwick, QLD), who returned to Australia this week after a stint riding in North America.

 

Rockhampton Invitational Format

Twenty-four riders will face one bull each in Round 1 and Round 2 with the highest aggregate score awarded the event win.

There will be no Championship Round.

NOTE: The field has been reduced to 23 following the withdrawal of Budd Williamson.

View the Full Rockhampton Daysheet

 

Possible Points

There is a maximum of 600 points available to anyone rider this weekend in Rockhampton with the winner of the event receiving 400 points. Round winners will also collect 100 points towards the PBR Australian National Standings.

120 world points are also available for the event winner with the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas just around the corner.

 

In the Bull Pen

The bullpen is a similar one to what we saw in Mackay a fortnight ago. With no Championship Round, it could be a tough night for riders with many of the regular short-go bulls allocated in the long-round draws.

Riders only covered 23.25% of the bulls in Mackay, but we usually see the riding percentage rise as we string a few events together.

The contracted stock will be spearheaded by the Dittmann Bucking Bulls (Bloomsbury, QLD) pair POA Fully Locked & Loaded and POA Palooka. Both bulls regularly put up bull scores upwards of 43.5 points and rarely give up qualified rides.

King Kong and Barn Yard from the Fred Kleier (Clermont, QLD) pen of bulls also produce solid outs on a regular basis. They have averaged an outstanding 43.07-point bull score this year with many of Australia’s top riders featuring on their buck-off list.

The un-ridden Bring It On from Diamond J Rodeo Co. will be another strong bull to watch. In Mackay, the bull bucked off standings’ leader Aaron Kleier in 5.1 seconds.

 

Providing Protection

PBR’s Bullzye Protection Athlete Team will once again be the first line of defence on the dirt.

Local Bullfighter Clint Kelly (Gracemere, QLD) will be joined by his regular partners Mitch Russell (Melville, NSW) and Geoff Hall (Aberdeen, NSW).

 

Coverage

You can keep up to date by following Ride the Rage and PBR Australia on Social Media.

I will once again have my Live Updates page running with Live Scores, Commentary, Pictures and Video.

 

Next Up

The PBR Australia Monster Energy tour heads south to the Scenic Rim on 6 October 2018 for the Beaudesert Invitational.

Information and Tickets can be found on the PBR Australia website.