PBR Veteran Jason Mara (Cloncurry, QLD) produced the high marked ride of the event when it mattered to take out the 2018 PBR Australia Monster Energy Melbourne Invitational on Saturday night.
In front of a boisterous Melbourne Arena crowd, Mr Buckmore (TnR Bucking Bulls) threw every trick in the book at Mara in the Championship Round. The Queensland cowboy came out on top after the wild 8-second ride with the judges awarding 87.00 points.
Earlier in Round 1, he faced off with a red-hot Feel The Fire (TnR Bucking Bulls) who turned back to the right and with a few high, powerful kicks, had Mara in the dirt at the 2.71-second mark.
Undeterred, the 32-year-old lined up against Hot Dots (TnR Bucking Bulls) in the final out of Round 2. The bull showed plenty of speed as he turned back to the right, but the whistle blew, Mara reached down, untied himself and looked for a safe get off. The score was good enough to tie for the round win and was 84.50 points.
His 87.00 points in the Championship Round moved his total to 171.5-points, and that was good enough to earn Mara his fourth PBR Australia buckle for the 2018 calendar year and puts him atop of the leaderboard for the new 2019 PBR Australia season.
View the full results of the Melbourne Invitational
Finishing in second place was Troy Wilkinson (Upper Horton, NSW) who made a successful comeback from mid-year surgery with a 2-for-3, 170-point performance.
The 2017 PBR Australian National Champion opened his account in Round 1 with a nice ride into his hand aboard Train Wreck for 84.5 points. That was enough to share the Round 1 win with Rubens Barbosa (Iaciara, Brazil) who ultimately finished third in the event.
Wilkinson added another perfect ride around to the left in the Championship Round, combining with Stealth (George Hempenstall) for 85.50 points. The ride moved him into second place on the event leaderboard with just two riders left to ride.
Barbosa was a perfect 2-for-2 entering the final round of the night, but he was unable to take the last ride of the event due to injury.
He tied for the Round 1 win courtesy of an 84.50 point ride on George Hempenstall’s Windy Gate. The bull backed out and then entered a right-handed spin which allowed Barbosa to open up and add some sparkle to the ride.
His second qualified ride of the night came aboard Down Under (John Gill & Sons) for 84.50 points. Barbosa showed he could ride them both ways as down under turned back to the left and tried to dislodge the 35-year-old with some spectacular high kicking jumps. It was enough to split the round win with Mara.
His 169.50 point total had Barbosa leading all riders heading into the Championship Round before injury cut his night short, ending up in third place in the aggregate.
View the completed Melbourne Invitational Daysheet
Kurt Shephard (Atherton, QLD) continued his excellent form with a 2-for-3 effort of his own to finish fourth in the event. The 24-year-old rode Switch Back (TnR Bucking Bulls) for 83.50 points in the opening round and added a further 83-points aboard Maximum Rat (George Hempenstall) in the Championship Round.
Nathan Burtenshaw (Coonamble, NSW) was the best of the riders on one qualified ride after he put up 84.00 points on Train Wreck. He was offered a re-ride opportunity in Round 2, and he took it with both hands to put himself in position for a strong finish. Burtenshaw kicked off his season with a fifth-place finish.
2018 Stock Contractors of the Year TnR Bucking Bulls carried over their good form into the new season, taking home the Champion Bull Team award thanks to their team of Night Hawk, Mr Buckmore and Call Me Joe.
The high-marked bull of the night ended in a four-way tie between Stir Crazy from John Gill & Sons and the TnR Bucking Bull trio of Street Wise, Bring The Action and Night Hawk who were all scored 43.50 points.
Following the season opener, Jason Mara leads the 2019 PBR Australian National Standings with 580 points. Troy Wilkinson is in second on 380 points with Rubens Barbosa a further 40 points adrift in third.
View the full 2019 PBR Australian National Standings
Next weekend the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour heads to Adelaide in South Australia for the Adelaide Invitatonal. Check ridetherage.com during the week for all the details.