The new season begins tonight with Monster Energy Tour action from the Great Western Hotel Arena. Thirty riders will take their place in the field for the opening event. After the frantic finish to the COVID-19 affected 2020 season, many will be looking forward to a more traditional competition format.
Here are the matchups that I am looking forward to watching tonight:
Cody Heffernan on Blinky Bill (BK Bucking Bulls)
The Singleton bull rider has looked good in the competition arena and the practice pen so far this year, and after finishing the 2020 season with a few qualified rides, his confidence should be growing. Blinky Bill has only been seen once in PBR Australia competition, which was here at the Great Western last year. Michael Smith completed the ride but was called for a slap at 5.27 seconds with the bull marked 41.50 points. This looks like a nice bull to start his new campaign, although the bull is expected to turn back away from Heffernan’s riding hand.
Brady Fielder on Off The Planet (BK Bucking Bulls)
Fielder will head into the opening night of competition full of confidence after picking up a big win rodeoing last weekend. We have seen Off The Planet a handful of times over the past few seasons, and he remains unridden. I think that streak may come to an end here. This bull has shown he can turn back in either direction, but his preference seems to be to the right after a look to the left. That should put him into the Clermont cowboy’s hand, a direction that Fielder went 3-for-3 at last season’s Grand Finals.
Ty Thomson on Catfish Billy (JD Bucking Bulls)
Catfish Billy bucked at two PBR Australia events last season, and he came away with an even record from his four trips. He allowed a pair of low scores at Beaudesert but won his two matchups at Toowoomba. The bull has produced two fairly consistent trips so far. He either spins to the right or looks right and turns back to the left. The Mount Walker young gun put together some very nice rides in both direction during his rookie season, and he gets an excellent opportunity to start the year with a score.
Clay Hall on Bad Moon (Dunne Bulls)
We only saw Hall at a few events during his debut season, and he didn’t get too much luck in the draws with his last four bulls turning back away from his hand. Bad Moon also made his PBR debut in 2020. He gave up two scores to left-handed riders, while right-handed riders finished 0-for-3. The bull appears to turn back to the left consistently, and that should put him into Hall’s hand. Over the past few months, the Athol bull rider has been recording qualified rides in both directions, so the anti-clockwise direction should give him the upper hand.
Macaulie Leather on Iron Jacket (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
This looks to be an outstanding matchup for Leather in his PBR debut. Iron Jacket is a bull that has been around for a long time, and many of the up-and-coming cowboys in Queensland are very familiar with him. His consistent action and ability to post solid bull scores makes him one of the best draws at any event. He has been ridden in over 57% of his trips in PBR Australia competition. He will turn back to the left, which will be into the Calliope talent’s riding hand.
Aaron Kleier on Black Tuxedo (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
This is by far the most anticipated matchup of the long round. The Clermont champion begins his campaign for a fourth straight national title, and his form in the leadup has looked solid. Kleier and Black Tuxedo have squared off twice in PBR Australia competition so far, and the bull holds a 2-0 advantage. The first matchup was at Last Cowboy Standing back in 2019, where the bull was scored 44.5 points in the 6.83-second matchup. Last season in the Toowoomba short-go, the bull score was 42-points, with the clock stopping at 1.07 seconds. Black Tuxedo bucked off his last seven riders to finish the 2020 season, but most riders got a start. Expect the pair to do battle around to the right and away from Kleier’s hand.