Cup season resumes this Saturday night when the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour heads back to Queensland for the fourth instalment of Last Cowboy Standing at the Brisbane Entertainment Center.
The bracket-style competition will feature 28 riders from four nations (18 AUS, 5, MEX, 2 CAN, 1 NZL) and with defending champion Kurt Shephard ruled out with injury, Cody Heffernan (2016) is the only previous event winner in the field.
Riders are not only matched up against the bulls but also against other riders. The cowboy with the highest score or ride time in each matchup proceeds through to the next round.
Last Cowboy Standing Event Format
- 28 riders will face off against their opponent in Round 1.
- The 14 winning riders plus the 2 losers riders with the highest scores/times in Round 1 will progress to Round 2.
- The 8 winning riders from Round 2 will then progress to the Championship Round.
- The rider with the highest ride score in the Championship Round will be crowned PBR Australia’s Last Cowboy Standing.
- There will also be an event aggregate winner.
Could we see a new #1 on the Australian National Standings?
The battle for the Number 1 spot on the Australian National Standings between Aaron Kleier and Fraser Babbington resumes with the kiwi just 292.49 points adrift of Kleier. There are also plenty of cowboys chasing them and with only a handful of events left until the 2018 PBR Australia Grand Finals its time for them to make their moves. I have a feeling this will turn out to be a pivotal event in deciding the 2018 PBR Australian Champion with big points on offer at Last Cowboy Standing.
Last Cowboy Standing Round 1 Matchup Previews
Lonnie West (CAN) vs Mitchel Paton (AUS)
I think West will be the first to advance to Round 2 here after drawing Russian Roulette (Stuart Timm/Allen). The bull has been ridden in his last three outs with Will Purcell taking home the long-go win at Inverell late last year. After a 1-for-2 trip to the Sydney Global Cup, the 22-year-old Canadian should be fired up for a good result in Brisbane.
Francisco Morales (MEX) vs Braydon Wellby (AUS)
Despite going 0-for-2 at the PBR Global Cup I am going to go with Morales here. The veteran has drawn a rider-friendly bull in Big Buck Hunter (Stuart Timm) who has been covered in two of his three outs with Cliff Richardson and Lachlan Slade placing in the long rounds at Grafton and Mt Cotton respectively.
Jason Mara (AUS) vs Michael Smith (AUS)
Both riders have tough draws here but after winning three straight PBR Australia events and going 1-for-2 at the PBR Global Cup I have to side with Mara. The 31-year-old has covered 7 of his last 9 bulls and while Ted (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) is 3-for-3 so far in 2018, I think that Mara will be able to hang on long enough to advance.
Budd Williamson (AUS) vs Lachlan Slade (AUS)
Slade should advance here. Baby Blue (Robert Bunn) has been ridden 4 times in the last two years with the latest being a 79.50 point effort by Matt Pfingst at the Mt Cotton event back in May. At his last event, the Emu Vale cowboy went 1-for-3 at the Cairns Invitational but draw a couple of tough ones, facing the newly crowned 2018 Australian Bucking Bull of the Year Take the Gamble in Round 2 and Game On in Round 3.
Fraser Babbington (NZL) vs Troy Wilkinson (AUS)
The battle between the 2015 and 2017 Australian National Champions looks a tough one to pick to pick. With Wilkinson riding injured, I am leaning towards Babbington who should be fired up after a solid Sydney PBR Global Cup last weekend. We last saw his draw, Heathers Little Spinner (Robert Bunn) at Mt Cotton where he was covered by Ky Hamilton for 85.00 points.
Justin Paton (AUS) vs Nathan Burtenshaw (AUS)
I am not sure which way to go here with very little information available on the Hall Rodeo Company bull’s they have both drawn. But I will stick with Burtenshaw who finished 5th in the Sydney PBR Global Cup Individual standings with a 3-for-3 effort. I think the fact that he almost rode Team Australia to victory on the final ride of the event will have his confidence sky high despite the ACL injury.
Alvaro Aguilar Alvarez (MEX) vs Bailey Woodard (AUS)
Another matchup that could go either way. Alvarez has faced some tough bulls on his first trip to Australia. The young Mexican finished fifth in Round 1 of the Cairns Invitational but has been shut out since, facing 2018 Bucking Bull of the Year Take the Gamble, SweetPros Tough Task and SweetPro’s Fully Locked & Loaded in his last three outs. I only have one out recorded for his draw, Daylight from Hall Rodeo Company, which resulted in a buck off at Mt Cotton for Lachlan Slade.
Cody Heffernan (AUS) vs Ryan Storey (AUS)
Storey has drawn a very nice bull here in Round 1 but I am tipping Heffernan to advance to Round 2. The Singleton cowboy was on fire leading into PBR Australia’s Cup season riding 8 of his last 9 bulls heading into the Cairns Invitational. Heffernan went 1-for-3 at the Sydney Global Cup and looks to be riding well enough to get a score on Dan Klabe’s Gravel Rash. Gravel Rash has only been ridden once in the last 18 months but good riders seem to get a long way into the 8 seconds.
Brock Radford (CAN) vs Lane Mellers (AUS)
I have no information on Radford’s bull and Meller’s has drawn a tough one. I will go with the Canadian off the back of his 2-for-2 effort to finish 13th in the Individual Event at the Sydney PBR Global Cup. The 23-year-old currently sits 31st in the PBR World Standings and has ridden well in Australia on previous trips finishing 4th in the 2017 Townsville Iron Cowboy.
Francisco Garcia Torres (MEX) vs Ethan Watts (AUS)
Difficult matchup to pick once again. I’ll stick Watts to advance despite his 0-for-2 finish at the Sydney PBR Global Cup last weekend. The 26-year-old rode this bull, House Party for 80.75 points a fortnight ago at the Cairns Invitational. We haven’t seen too much of House Party as he has only been on the scene since New Year’s Eve but if Watts can repeat the effort on the Brian King bucking bull should see him progress to Round 2.
Cliff Richardson (AUS) vs Jay Borghero (AUS)
I have to go with Richardson here after Borghero’s draw a bull that has bucked off his last 12 cowboys. The 27-year-old has ridden his last 3 bulls including going a perfect 2-for-2 at the Sydney PBR Global Cup last weekend. The bull is Ryans Gangster from Brian King who is unridden in his only two outs, dispatching Sonny Schafferius and Bailey Woodard to the dirt in the last two PBR Australia Cup events.
Aaron Kleier (AUS) vs Ky Hamilton (AUS)
This should be a great matchup between two of the young guns of Australian bull riding. I will go with Kleier to advance after drawing Rockslide from Dunne Bulls. The 20-year-old had a solid Sydney PBR Global Cup last weekend covering Notorious for 86.50 points to win Round 3. Rockslide has only been out four times with Derek Kolbaba the only man to make the 8 seconds, scoring 82.75 points in Round 1 of the Sydney PBR Global Cup.
Jorge Valdiviezo (MEX) vs Roy Dunn (AUS)
Valdiviezo has a great chance to post a high score in Round 1. Coming off a perfect 2-for-2 event at the Sydney PBR Global Cup last weekend, the 29-year-old Mexican has drawn Pistol Whip from Dunne Bulls. Pistol Whip has only been covered four times in the last two years with the latest being an 86.25 point effort by Jason Mara at the Cairns Invitational a fortnight ago. I think a big score will put Valdiviezo right in the hunt for the Event Aggregate Title.
Gustavo Pedrero (MEX) vs Sonny Schafferius (AUS)
Schafferius has drawn Notorious from Brandenburg Bucking Bulls and I think he will record a qualified ride. After a monster effort a fortnight ago at the Cairns Invitational, the 29-year-old headed to Bowen River where he won the Bullride last weekend. Notorious looks quite a rider-friendly bull and he was ridden twice at the Sydney PBR Global Cup by Team Australia members Justin Paton and Aaron Kleier. Schafferius already has a victory over Notorious, scoring 84.75 points at the 2017 Cairns Invitational so he looks a great chance to post a good score here.
Possible Last Cowboy Standing Round 2 Matchups
Its hard to preview anything past Round 1 but here are a couple key matchups that we could see in Round 2 of Last Cowboy Standing if my predictions are correct.
Fraser Babbington (NZL) and Super Natural vs Nathan Burtenshaw (AUS) and Classic Example
If it eventuates, this shapes up to be a great matchup and I think both riders will post scores with a couple of nice bulls from Wallace Bucking Bulls in this section. I think Babbington will have a bit more bull power under him with Super Natural. The bull was ridden by Team USA’s Brennon Eldered in Round 3 of the Sydney PBR Global Cup last weekend for 84.25 points. Burtenshaw’s draw, Classic Example has only one out recorded he was covered by Sonny Schafferius in Rockhampton back in May.
Cliff Richardson (AUS) and Shots vs Aaron Kleier (AUS) vs Paradise Outdoors High Class Hooker
Both riders will have quality bulls to contend with in Round 2 if this matchup occurs. Both of the bulls in this section come from Dittmann Bucking Bulls and we have recently seen quality rides recorded on both Shots and High Class Hooker. Richardson currently sits third in the Australian National Standings and he will be fired up in a bit to make up more ground on Kleier. I’m not sure which way it will go but I think we will see two qualified rides.
The Last Cowboy Standing Championship Round is stacked with some of Australia’s best Bucking Bulls.
Last weekend Top Country Take the Gamble was announced as the 2018 Australian Bucking Bull of the Year. The Brandenburg Bucking Bull dispatched 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood on his way to a 44.0 point bull score in Round 2 and backed that up with a 43.50 point out in Round 4.
The bullpen also contains SweetPros Fully Locked & Loaded who regularly posts bull scores upwards of the magical 45.0 points. After a couple of disappointing trips at the Sydney PBR Global Cup last weekend, I am sure the team at Dittmann Bucking Bulls will have him wound up and back to his brutal best.