Only the Top 35 riders in the PBR World Standings are assured of a spot in the 2018 PBR World Finals draw and with seven weeks remaining until PBR Finals Week, multiple PBR Australia bull riders remain in contention to qualify.
PBR Finals Week commences in Las Vegas, NV with the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Finals held at the SouthPoint Arena 2-3 November and continues with the PBR World Finals commencing 7th November at T-Mobile Arena.
With just 20 regular season events remaining on PBR schedules worldwide before Finals Week kicks off, current World Number 21 Nathan Burtenshaw (Coonamble, NSW) looks to be the only Aussie assured of a place inside T-Mobile Arena.
Burtenshaw has accumulated 907.5 points so far in 2018 courtesy of two event wins and seven top 5 finishes. The 24-year-old has a great opportunity to improve his world ranking heading into the finals with six regular-season events remaining on the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast Tour. Burtenshaw also sits in 6th spot on the Velocity Tour Standings and should qualify for the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals.
Brazilian Kaique Pacheco leads the PBR World Standings on 3815-points heading into this weekend.
Since 2015 when the PBR changed their points system, riders have required around 590 points to qualify for the PBR World Finals.
This won’t be the best guide with the revised points system for Velocity Tour and International Cup events coming into effect this year. We have also seen an increase in events.
Taking this into account, I think that riders will now require between 725 and 750 points to qualify.
Currently, the number 35 ranked rider is Lachlan Richardson (Gresford, NSW), who sits on 675 points and is looking to qualify for his seventh PBR World Finals. 2-time PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney is close behind on 671.66 points and these two riders should benefit from the gap between themselves and No. 37 Emilio Resende (600-points).
Resende is currently out of competition as he recovers from shoulder surgery but is tentatively due back mid-October.
Lachlan Richardson will be hoping for a good draw or two this weekend in Atlantic City and with that comes a great chance to leap forward in the standings. Currently, No. 29 Sean Willingham sits on 720 points, so one good performance will put riders between himself and the bubble spot.
There is a chasing pack of PBR Australia riders just outside the Top 35 which includes Cliff Richardson (Gresford, NSW) in 39th on 510 points and Fraser Babbington (Gisborne, NZ) in 41st on 447.5 points.
Cliff Richardson gets another crack at the PBR’s Premier Tour this weekend as it moves to Atlantic City, NJ. At this level, the 28-year-old just needs to string a ride or two together to find himself right in the hunt for a maiden berth at the PBR World Finals.
Babbington remains in the USA to compete at the Velocity Tour event in Portland, ME this weekend. The Kiwi has previously competed at the Finals as an alternate but I know the 2015 PBR Australia National Champion would love to close out his career with Top 35 finish. Babbington is the first alternate for the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast tour event in New Jersey. The 31-year-old may choose to attempt to qualify via the Velocity Tour Finals.
View the Full PBR World Standings
With a maximum of 480 world points available at the four remaining PBR Australia events, Clermont’s Aaron Kleier (42nd on 420 points) and Singleton’s Cody Heffernan (45th on 395 points) both remain a chance to qualify through events here at home. Both riders would require multiple event wins to put themselves in contention but Kleier and Heffernan have both proven they can get hot, and stay hot.
Justin Paton (Nebo, QLD) is the only other Australian ranked in the Top 50 of the PBR World Standings, sitting 49th on 365.82 points and remains a slim chance of qualification. But Paton will need to hurry.
There are always injury alternates and qualifier spots available so every qualified ride our PBR Australia riders can put together and every spot they can improve will increase their chances of riding on bull riding’s biggest stage.