Tonight, the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour heads to the Hunter region of New South Wales for the 2019 Newcastle Invitational. Twenty-two cowboys will go up against some of the rankest bucking bulls in the country inside the Entertainment Centre.
Here are my highlight matchups:
Round 1 Matchups
Fraser Babbington on Down Under (John Gill & Sons)
Babbington is 2-for-3 since returning from injury with his only buck off coming courtesy of the unridden Tuff Territory at Last Cowboy Standing. The 2015 PBR Australian National Champion rarely bucks off bulls that turn back into his hand, and that is what we usually get from Down Under, a right-hand turn. All but one of the six qualified rides that Down Under has given up in his 18 out PBR Australia career have been to right-handed riders, so the stats bode well for Babbington.
Lane Mellers on Ransom 2 (John Gill & Sons)
The 2018 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year covered his last four bulls to close out his July campaign in Canada. Mellers looks to have drawn a nice bull that gives him a chance to continue his streak here. Ransom 2 has been covered five times for three round wins in his PBR career. These two matched up earlier this season in Adelaide with Ransom 2 winning the battle in quick time. An in-form Mellers will be hungry to avenge that loss. The bull is expected to turn back into his hand, tipping the odds in the rider’s favour.
Troy Wilkinson on Stealth (George Hempenstall)
This matchup will be the third time that Wilkinson and Stealth have done battle on the 2019 Monster Energy Tour and the record sits at one win apiece. Stealth won their last matchup at the Shepparton Invitational in 6.73 seconds for a 43-point bull score while the 2017 PBR Australian National Champion got the job done in Melbourne for 85.5 points earlier in the season. Stealth seems to prefer to turn back to the right, and after the initial jumps to clear the chute, really flattens out and adds some speed.
Lachlan Richardson on Super Natural (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
Super Natural has allowed qualified rides in five of his last seven appearances on the Monster Energy Tour. The bull bucks at a very even tempo and doesn’t have too much forward movement which has made him one of the rider’s favourite draws. Richardson will be eager to post a qualified ride after bucking off his past ten bulls in PBR Australia competition, and this matchup should suit him. Super Natural consistently posts substantial numbers and tends to turn back to the right more often than not.
Cody Heffernan on Iron Jacket (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
The 2016 PBR Australian National Champion has an excellent opportunity here in his return from injury. Iron Jacket is one of the top draws in this round. He has combined with riders for eight qualified rides in his career with all eight scores good enough for a round win or second place in the round. Heffernan scored 87.5 points on this bull last season in Rockhampton, but Iron Jacket will be tougher to get by this time. Iron Jacket has continued to improve and has posted excellent scores in his recent outs which should make for a spectacular matchup.
Round 2 Matchups
Kurt Shephard on POA Ray Ban (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
Shephard has covered nine of his thirteen bulls in PBR competition since returning from a knee injury. POA Ray Ban has allowed just one qualified ride since early in 2018, and that was to Nathan Burtenshaw at the inaugural PBR Origin in June for a season-high 89.5 points. He likes to leap high off the ground and adds lots of roll into his action. The bull may not be the best fit for a left-handed rider, but you can bet that this will be one of the most competitive and entertaining matchups of the night.
Cliff Richardson on High Class Hooker (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
High Class Hooker and Richardson have clashed twice previously with the bull winning on both occasions. They first met in 2017 at Cairns where the bovine was scored 43 points in the 5.85-second buck off. The second bout was at Mount Isa just five weeks ago where the buck off came at 3.72 seconds with a 44.5-point bull score awarded. Richardson is in good form, covering eight of his last ten bulls and finishing in the Top 10 at eight of his previous ten events. High Class Hooker has been ridden twice in his last three trips for 87.5 and 87 points by Brady Fielder and Kurt Shephard. The pair should battle it out around to the right and into Richardson’s hand.
Rubens Barbosa on SweetPro’s Turn It Up (Kasper Bucking Bulls)
The Brazilian comes back down under for the third time this season. He will face SweetPro’s Turn It Up who has emerged victorious in his last six outs. The run includes a 3.17-second dispatch of the No. 1 ranked Australian rider Aaron Kleier in Sydney at the PBR Origin event in June. The bull likes to scramble his way around to the right, slinging his head held high in the air. Barbosa has a riding record of 12-for-17 on Australian soil in the past eight months, and he should start favourite in this matchup.
Aaron Kleier on SweetPro’s Mystery (Kasper Bucking Bulls)
Kleier looks to have drawn well here in his return from his North America campaign. The PBR Australian National Standings leader rode over 50% of his bulls in Canada and looked at home during his PBR Unleash The Beast debut. SweetPro’s Mystery has allowed three qualified rides in his four PBR outs since making his debut earlier this season. Flávio Vinícius da Silva was the highest scored ride of the trio, marked 87 points at the Shepparton Invitational in the bull’s debut trip. He should turn back into Kleier’s hand with some forward movement.
Brady Fielder on Train Wreck (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls)
The last time a rider climbed aboard Train Wrack in a PBR arena it was Brady Fielder. The two will go at it again with the bull leading the series 1-0 thanks to a 4.53-second buck off at PBR Origin. Fielder holds a dominant lead the PBR Australia Rookie of the Year race and recently returned from North America where he recorded a win and a further six Top 10 finishes in Canada. He also made his Premier Series debut at Last Cowboy Standing in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Fielder appeared to lose contact with his rope during their matchup in Sydney, and he gets a chance to make amends here.
Tune into RidePass from 7:00 pm AEST to catch all the action or follow along inside the Ride the Rage Score Center!