Cliff Richardson won his second PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour event of the season on Saturday, taking out the 2019 Grafton Invitational with a perfect two ride performance.
The 28-year-old put together a pair of textbook bull rides to collect over $2,500 and 520 points towards the 2019 PBR Australian National Standings to move into the Top-5 and remain in contention for the Gold Buckle.
“It was the most amazing win,” said Richardson. “It’s always good when you can stay on and do your job whether you win or draw.”
“Winning never gets old!” he exclaimed.
Richardson was the first rider to post a qualified ride in Round 1 at the Showgrounds on a night where the cowboys rode 28.57% of their bulls. His 83.5-point trip aboard Terms & Conditions (TnR Bucking Bulls) held on to split the round win with younger brother Lachlan Richardson.
“I certainly knew Terms & Conditions because he’s one of Mitch’s [Russell – TnR Bucking Bulls],” he said.
“But at the same time, I’ve never been on him and only seen him a few times in his career. I knew he would be a good ride and that he’d been to the right, but I was going into it with an open mind.”
Adding “Being such a young bull, you have to be prepared for anything, and that’s the way you have to ride those bulls.”
The Gresford bull rider then faced off with Twisted X (Maynes Bucking Bulls) in Round 2. The pair previously met at last season, and it was Richardson again who came out on top, adding another 83.5 points to take his aggregate total to 167.0 points.
“I’d won a round on Twisted X before, and last night he was he was very similar to when I first rode him,” he recounted.
Richardson now has eight career PBR wins and sits fifth in the PBR Australia standings, 1733.33 points behind the No. 1 ranked Aaron Kleier. Just five Monster Energy Tour event remain before November’s Grand Finals in Townsville.
The perennial title contender has now recorded qualified rides on three of his last four bulls and appears to be gathering steam as the tour enters its final stages.
“You have got to be confident because if you are not confident going into these matchups, you’re not going to do any good”
“I feel as good as I have ever felt,” said Richardson, who plans to attend several rodeo events in the lead up to the next PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour event later this month.
“I feel good and healthy, and if you are healthy, that’s most of the battle. Now I just need to do my job, he said confidently.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Lane Mellers put together another runner-up finish to move within reach of a first gold buckle. The 20-year-old collected 330 championship points as well as $1,862.31 for his second-place finish and consolidated his seventh place in the standings. He now sits 2208.33 points behind Kleier.
The Mundubbera cowboy placed seventh in Round 1 after combining with Cherry Ripe (Dan Klabe) for 81.5 points.
An 84.5-point ride aboard Im Cool (Dan Klabe) in Round 2 saw Mellers share the round win with Brady Fielder. The score moved him into the event lead as the first rider to cover two bulls with an aggregate total of 166 points.
No. 2 ranked Brady Fielder finished in third place at Grafton and made up more ground in the Championship thanks to the split win in Round 2. The Clermont bull rider and leader of the Rookie of the Year race bucked off in The Donald (TnR Bucking Bulls) in Round 1 but made amends in the final round.
The 19-year-old joined Mellers at the top of Round 2 leaderboard with 84.5 points aboard Matt Black (TnR Bucking Bulls) who was impressive in his PBR debut.
Fielder earned 260 points towards the standings and just a tick under $1,400. The gap between himself and Kleier now sits at 785.83 points.
Rockhampton’s Josh Cavanagh produced his best finish in PBR competition, finishing in fourth place and gathering 155 points and $864.64.
The rookie bull rider finished third in Round 2 with 84 points away from his hand aboard Outlaw (Dan Klabe).
Earlier in Round 1, Cavanagh bucked off Spokane (TnR Bucking Bulls) in one of the rankest outs of the night.
The result moves the 19-year-old up five spots in the PBR Australia Standings into 20th place and puts him in the conversation for a maiden Grand Finals berth.
Seven-time PBR World Finals qualifier Lachlan Richardson rounded out the Top-5 with his Round 1 score of 83.5 points. The Gresford bull rider collected 80 championship points for his Round 1 co-win and $977.71.
Richardson was marked 83.5 points aboard Midnight Hour (Maynes Bucking Bulls) who turned back to the right in the opening round. He then bucked off Wild Paint (TnR Bucking Bulls) in the final round.
The 26-year-old remains in fourth place in the race for the gold buckle 1558.33 points adrift of Kleier.
Dungog’s Oscar Leake added another handy finish, placing sixth in the event following his 83 points ride aboard Wild Side (Dan Klabe) in Round 1.
Seventh place in the event was split three-ways between Fraser Babbington, Aaron Kleier and Justin Robards who all finished with 82.5 points thanks to Round 1 qualified rides.
Babbington’s qualified ride came aboard Gold Jacket (Hall Rodeo Co./Murphy) while Kleier took his record against SweetPro’s Chemical Weapon (Kasper Bucking Bulls) to 3-and-0. Robards made the whistle aboard Little Hillbilly (Maynes Bucking Bulls).
Finishing in tenth place was Texas, Queensland’s Matt Pfingst who rode Gee Whiz (Hall Rodeo Co.) for 79 points in Round 1.
The 2019 Grafton Invitational could go down as one of the most pivotal events of the current season. Ratings leader Aaron Kleier collected just 43.33 points for his seventh-place finish, with all four of his rivals that competed in Grafton making up ground on the 20-year-old.
Sharing the Champion Bull Team award for the 2019 Grafton Invitational were Kasper Bucking Bulls and TnR Bucking Bulls who finished the night locked together on 126 points.
Wrangler’s Volatile led the way for the Kasper’s, recording the highest bull score of the night with 43 points in his 2.04-second matchup with Fraser Babbington in Round 2. SweetPro’s Mystery and SweetPro’s Chemical Weapon added 42.5 points and 40.5 points, respectively.
TnR Bucking Bull’s team put together a very consistent event with rookie bull Hammer McKenzie leading the way on 42.5 points. OOH Night Hawk was marked 42 points while Crackalackin put up 41.5 points.
The Grafton bullpen averaged a mark of 40.96 points.
The PBR Australia Monster Energy tour now moves north to Central Queensland for the 2019 Mackay Invitational on Saturday, 28 September 2019.