When I first saw the pen of bulls set down for this event, my initial thoughts were that they would ride plenty of bulls and end up well over the season riding percentage of 29.50%. That may very well happen, but after seeing the draw and diving deeper into the statistics, I found loads of tricky matchups, and the path to victory isn’t a clear one.
With double points on the line, this is the second most important event of the season, and with just two events remaining before the 2021 PBR Australia Grand Finals, no cowboy can afford to be left behind.
Here are my must-see matchups:
Aaron Kleier on Mr Meaner (Ruhland Ranch)
The No. 1 ranked rider in the country returns to competition after missing last week with a shoulder injury. Kleier was close to making it back for that event, so I expect him to be mostly fit. Before he was injured in Mackay, he had covered five of his nine bulls through September and October. Mr Meaner has only been out twice on tour, and he has won both of his matchups in an average of 4.41 seconds. He turned back to the left on both occasions, and I think we can expect that trend to continue giving the Clermont cowboys the advantage riding into his hand.
Joshua Jones on The Pet (ST Bucking Bulls)
The Pet has been ridden three times from his four trips in PBR Australia competition, with the average score coming in at 83.83 points. Kurt Shephard recorded the highest score of 85-points at Burnett Heads a couple of months ago. If Jones can manage a score around that mark, that will place him quite well in the round. The Kingaroy talent has gone 2-for-4 across his last two events, with the two buck offs coming at the horns of Freckles Brown and Razor Sharp. He is ranked 17th on the standings leaderboard, so he needs a solid result to book his spot in Townsville. With the bull expected to turn back into his hand, Jones should start the favourite in this matchup.
Brady Fielder on Off The Planet (BK Bucking Bulls)
Fielder was another rider who missed last week’s Emerald event, but he wasn’t far off competing. The No. 4 ranked rider had a couple of rough events through September, but he found his feet again in October with consecutive top-4 finishes. Off The Planet is unridden through five performances, with buck off times averaging 4.03 seconds. The bull and Fielder met up in the first event of the season at Rockhampton, with the bull winning in 4.23 seconds and posting his average bull score of 40 points. Fielder is in much better form this time in, and while the bull can mix up his trips, I am happy to side with the Clermont bull rider.
Qynn Andersen on Dirty Money (JD Bucking Bulls)
The Koumala young-gun looks to be finding his groove on the Monster Energy Tour and isn’t far off qualifying for his first PBR Australia Grand Finals. He has ridden a couple of good bulls at the past two events, and he gets another excellent opportunity to add a further score here. We have only seen Dirty Money a couple of times on tour, and on both occasions, he turned back to the right. He has averaged a bull score of 41.25 points, with buck offs coming at 2.80 and 6.47 seconds. I don’t think it will be long until this bull is ridden for a qualified ride, and with the bull expected to turn back into Andersen’s hand, it could be tonight.
Caiden Sandilands on Slink E Malinki (JD Bucking Bulls)
Sandilands broke his three-event buck off streak with an impressive ride at Mackay last month, but he has since bucked off three straight bulls. I wouldn’t read too much into that stat. The bulls he has faced have been formidable opponents from the Dittmann Bucking Bulls team, and he has taken them all deep into the 8-seconds. Slink E Malinki has been ridden twice for scores of 85 and 80 points from just three trips, with the later score going to Aaron Kleier at Burnett Heads in September. He prefers a turn back to the left, which should put the Rockhampton bull rider back on the leaderboard.
Lawson Nobbs on Catfish Billy (JD Bucking Bulls
Catfish Billy is probably the most ridable bull in this round, but the scores haven’t been anything to write home about so far. But in this event, a score is a score as I think you will need an almost perfect finish to finish high up in the aggregate. In eight trips, this bull has been ridden three times, and his preference is to turn back to the left. Nobbs has been riding well over the past month, going four from seven but he has slipped back to the No. 6 spot in the national standings. All four of his qualified rides came on bulls that have turned back into his hand. Catfish Billy should do exactly that and shouldn’t trouble the Moura cowboy too much.
Beau Willis on Amigo (MJ Bucking Bulls/Keliher Bucking Bulls)
Qualified rides have been hard to come by for Willis this season, but he looked good last weekend in Emerald taking Cattle King Boogers Beach to 7.74 seconds despite the 44.5 bull score. Amigo is statistically the most rideable bull in the second round, with the cowboys winning four of the bull’s nine outs for an average score of 81.75 points. The average buck off time is also past the 5-seconds mark. Aaron Kleier was the last rider to make the whistle, scoring 81 points away from his hand at Rockhampton last month. The bull should turn back to the right and into the Bowen veteran’s hand.
Sam Woodall on Dance Monkey (BK Bucking Bulls)
The Heywood talent has been riding much better than his recent record suggests. Woodall has covered just two bulls at his last three events, but his five buck offs have all occurred between 5.3 and 6.95 seconds and usually on a late change of direction. Dance Monkey is a bull that hasn’t had a clean out. Something disruptive always seems to happen mid-ride, such as a loss of footing, a stumble or running out of room close to the chutes. The bull will start with a turn back to the left, and if they can get out clean, I think Woodall can complete the ride despite it starting away from his hand. If the bull does happen to reverse direction, he can finish strong into his hand.
Kurt Shephard on Big Bang Theory (BK Bucking Bulls)
I think the No. 2 ranked Shephard would be pleased with this draw. He looks to have outdrawn Kleier here in the second round as he looks to continue closing the gap in the race for the gold buckle. Big Bang Theory has been covered three times now in his career, with scores of 88 and 83 points recorded this season. The latest of those went to Macaulie Leather in Rockhampton last month. The bull has turned back to the left in most of his trips, but he has gone the other way on the odd occasion. I think we can bet on him going left and into the Mareeba cowboy’s hand tonight.
Lachlan Richardson on Russian Roulette (ST Bucking Bulls)
Russian Roulette is one of the more challenging bulls in this pen, allowing just four qualified rides from twenty-two outs. The good news for Richardson is that all four of those scores went to right-handed riders, with the average mark landing at 85.69 points. The bad news for the Gresford cowboy is that this bull has bucked off twelve straight riders dating back to 2019 in Newcastle, where Fraser Babbington was 88 points for the round win. Richardson’s form has been up and down this season, but this is a ride that could give him a further push towards the pointy end of the standings after jumping up into the No. 5 spot last weekend. Look for the bull to turn back to the right and into his hand.
Kelsey Pavlou on Sargent Fox (ST Bucking Bulls)
Sargent Fox is another bull that enters the night with a five-win and four-loss record. Three of those four scores belong to right-handed riders, with the average marking coming in at 83.17 points. He produces a consistent trip, starting to the right with a change of direction late in the clock. Pavlou has been riding well over the last couple of months despite encountering some tricky draws. He has ridden five of his last eight bulls, and I think this should be one that the Toora bull rider will get by.
Macaulie Leather on Flyin Hippie (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
Leather picked up the win in Emerald last weekend with a 2-for-2 performance to break out of a rough four weeks on tour and move back into the No. 3 position in the 2021 standings. So far in his rookie season, the Calliope young-gun has faced four of the top-9 bucking bulls on tour, and tonight he will add Flyin Hippie to that list. This bull has been ridden just twice in his seventeen-out career. Aaron Kleier was 89 points last season, and Lachlan Richardson was 87.5 points at Burnett Heads a couple of months back. Look for the bull to catch plenty of air once again, leaving the chutes and entering a left-handed spin.