PBR Australia has a new No. 1 ranked cowboy, and it’s a familiar face.
Clermont’s Aaron Kleier finished the 2019 Cairns Invitational 2-for-3 to win his second event of the current PBR Australia season and the twelfth event of his short career.
The 2018 PBR Australian National Champion won two of the three rounds of competition on Saturday night to unseat the injured Cody Heffernan and move into the top spot on the PBR Australian National Standings leaderboard.
Kleier opened his account in Round 1 with an excellent ride aboard the previously unridden The D.O.C (Brandenburg Bucking Bulls). The bull turned back to the left, and the 21-year-old made no mistakes and was marked 87.5 points at the whistle.
He backed his opening round effort up with the high marked ride of the night in Round 2. Kleier was judged to have slapped Freckles Brown (Wallace Bucking Bulls) at the 6.68-second mark of the trip, but he was quick to challenge the ruling. The judges went to work and could find no evidence of the touch on the replays.
Kleier became the first man to go 2-for-2 and the 89 points earned not only gave him the Round 2 win but also moved him onto an aggregate total of 176.5 points. Freckles Brown became the second previously unridden bull to have his streak broken by Kleier on the night.
Leading the pack into the Championship Round, Kleier set up a rematch with POA Palooka (Dittmann Bucking Bulls). The bull needed 5.51 seconds and an event hight 45 point bull score to win the battle, but Kleier’s win was already assured after his opponents faltered in the short round.
“The crowd was unreal tonight, and the atmosphere was great. Really good!” said Kleier speaking of the support he received riding in front of his home state crowd on RidePass following the event.
“It’s great that I won it. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t finish on my short-go bull, but I am still really happy with how I went.”
Kleier took home almost $7,000, and a total of 580 championship points. He now leads the 2019 standings by 327.5 points to the No. 2 ranked Cody Heffernan.
Kleier also jumped up ten spots in the PBR World Standings to 14th.
Backing up his Last Cowboy Standing title with another strong finish was Kurt Shephard, who finished 2-for-3 and just 1 point behind Kleier on the aggregate leaderboard.
After bucking off 25 To Life (Dunne Bulls) in the opening round, the Atherton cowboy made amends, riding Silent Rage (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) for 87.5 points to get himself back to within striking distance of a second Cairns Invitational win.
Entering the Championship Round in the fourth spot, Shephard matched up against Barn Yard (Kleier Bucking Bulls) who had previously been ridden just twice in his long PBR Australia Career. As the bull turned back to the left, the 24-year-old took control of the matchup, scoring 88 points to take home maximum championship points from the short-go.
His aggregate total of 175.5 was enough for a second place finish and moved Shephard up one more spot in the PBR Australian National Standings to fourth. He sits 1155 points adrift of Kleier despite competing in just four events this season.
Another rider who stayed hot was Lachlan Slade who recorded a second straight top-3 finish thanks to a 2-for-3, 174.5 point night.
Slade split the Round 1 win with Kleier, thanks to an 87.5 point collaboration with Sick an Twisted (Dittmann Bucking Bulls).
Despite a quick buck off courtesy of Django (Wallace Bucking Bulls) in the second round of competition, the 25-year-old held down the fifth spot heading into the final round of the night.
His finish set up a rematch with Rock The House (Dunne Bulls/BSA), who had won their previous battle in 5.85 seconds. Slade got his revenge, scoring 87 points after the bull turned back to the right, giving the Tamworth cowboy the upper hand.
Rounding out the Top 5 at the 2019 Cairns Invitational was the Brazilian pair of Rubens Barbosa, who finished the night on 172 points, and Robinson Guedes, who wound up with 161 points.
Note: Just a quick note regarding the points I originally quoted in my Cairns Wrap-Up article. It looks as though the event points from PBR Origin were revised after I had entered them into my spreadsheet. The references in this article have now been adjusted.
POA Palooka from Dittmann Bucking Bulls took home the Champion Bull of the Event award after he was marked 45 points in his dispatch of Aaron Kleier in the Championship Round.
In the Bull Team event, we had a 3-way tie, with Dittmann Bucking Bulls, Wallace Bucking Bulls and Kleier Bucking Bulls crowned joint champions.
Next weekend, the PBR Australia Touring Pro Division heads to Mount Isa for two nights of action. The next Monster Energy Tour event will be at Newcastle in early August so stay tuned to ridetherage.com for all of the critical updates as we edge closer to the 2019 PBR Australia Grand Finals.