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The Morning Line – 2022 Mackay Invitational

The Mackay Invitational is always one of my favourite stops on the Monster Energy Tour. Each year we seem to get a good guide as to which riders are travelling the best heading into the last run of events before the PBR Australia Grand Finals.

The cowboys should get another good hit out tonight with a solid mix of experienced and up-and-coming bucking bulls contracted. Many of these bovine athletes are expected to feature in the Townsville finale next month, so riders will be eager to increase their confidence levels with a strong performance in the Sugar City sand.

Here are my highlight matchups:

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Round 1 Matchups

Jay Borghero on 17 Run For Your Life (Kleier Bucking Bulls)

Borghero is set to compete in his first PBR Australia event since the 2020 Grand Finals, and he looks to have drawn well here in the opening round. Run For Your Life has been ridden three times in his six-out career, with ride scores averaging 82.33 points. All three of those scores have gone the way of right-handed riders. Lachlan Richardson was the latest of those with a round winning 85.5 points awarded in Rockhampton in June this year. He will be out and around to the right, putting him into the riding hand of the Beaudesert cowboy.

Kelsey Pavlou on 61 Code Blue (Kleier Bucking Bulls)

This bout is the first of a couple of nice long-round draws for the Toora bull rider. He gets a rematch here against Code Blue, who is another bull that we have seen ridden plenty of times on tour for an average score of 83.5 points. This bull likes to leave the chutes and then make up his mind on the direction, but more often than not, we see him turn to the right, which will put him into the rider’s hand. Pavlou has bucked off four straight bulls, and we have not seen him do that since late 2021. I don’t think he won’t be far off reaching the whistle here in his second attempt at this bull. 

Beau Willis on -12 West Point (Dunne Bulls)

I don’t know too much about West Point, but I think these two might be able to combine for some decent numbers here. Willis made an excellent bull ride away his hand at Kilkivan last weekend, but he still has a bit of ground to make up in the race for a berth at next month’s PBR Australia Grand Finals. In the bull’s debut trip on New Year’s Eve in Rockhampton last year, Jack Keats took this bull to 6.99 seconds, with the bull score coming in at 42-points. That out was quite a while ago now, but we got to have a good look at him that night, and he looked relatively smooth and was around to the right. That will suit the Bowen veteran and should help his claim for a spot in Townsville.

Round 2 Matchups

Jake Curr on Y62 Super Natural (CF7 Bucking Bulls)

Super Natural helped out Curr on his way to picking up the Saturday night win at Mount Isa back in June courtesy of an 89-point trip, and I think they look like a great chance to combine for another score here. The bull has started to get the better of the cowboys and increased his buck-off statistic to sit ahead of the riders by a few wins – 16 to 13. He is still as honest as ever, and he continues to churn out great trips with a nice change of direction mid-ride. The left-handed Mount Isa talent has gone 2-from-6 across his last three event starts, but his season riding percentage remains up there with the best at 50%.

Ben Moran on 80 Damage Control (Kleier Bucking Bulls)

All of the trends point towards a qualified ride here in this matchup. Damage Control has been ridden four times from his ten outs at this level, and the bulk of those have gone the way of left-handed riders. In fact, lefties are 3-from-4 against this bull, and Wyatt Milgate was the most recent cowboy to hear the bell with 80.5 points at Rockhampton in June. Moran has had a rough run through the middle of the season, encountering a bunch of unsuitable draws and has come down early off his last ten bulls. The Yeppoon rookie won’t get a better chance to get himself back onto the leaderboard than this.

Qynn Andersen on 401 Ariat’s Flaunt It (Dunne Bulls)

There are quite a few very experienced bulls scattered throughout tonight’s long round draws, but there is only a handful that they ride more than 33% of the time. Flaunt It has allowed eight scores from his last eleven trips, with right-handers going 5-from-5 aboard him this season. Andersen has been riding very well of late, making four qualified rides at his previous four events, with the remaining buck-off times coming well into the second half of the eight seconds. The bull can mix up his trips, but I think he prefers a spin to the right. This matchup looks like a great one for the Koumala young gun, and I think he will be hard to hold out with the bull expected to turn back into his right riding hand.

Aaron Kleier on 306 Rambo (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)

This will be the third time Kleier and Rambo have matched up in a PBR Australia arena, and the score is level at 1-all. The bull scored a 2.05-second win at Julia Creek way back in 2019, but at Rockhampton earlier this season, they combined for 86.5 points and a round win. The bull has bucked off four cowboys since we saw Braith Nock get the job done for a whopping 91-points at Mount Isa in June. These two should do battle around to the right and away from Kleier’s riding hand. Last weekend, the Clermont talent bucked off both of his bulls at Kilkivan. That was the first time that he has left a tour stop with zero championship points since the single long-round event in Rockhampton back in May of 2021, so expect him to bounce back strong tonight. 

Jackson Gray on 707 Hollywood (Blackhall Livestock / Work Wide Contracting)

The Barcaldine cowboy has been battling his way through injury over the last month or two, but I think he will be nearing 100% health coming into this event. He has covered one bull from five attempts across his last two tour stops, but he hasn’t been far away from converting a couple of the buck-offs into scores. Hollywood is a bull that we have only seen a handful of times on tour, and he has built his unbeaten record to four outs with some handy trips. On each occasion, he has turned back and entered an anti-clockwise spin. All riders that have attempted him have been right-handers, so I am very interested to see him with a leftie aboard. I think Gray can capitalise on what looks to be a favourable draw.

Don’t miss Josh Hanson’s insider commentary on the Ride The Rage website and follow along on Facebook (Ride the Rage), Twitter (@RideTheRagePBR) and Instagram (@RideTheRagePBR).

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Published inEvent Previews and Wrap-Ups