After a run of Touring Pro events, we are back on the Monster Energy Tour tonight with big points available in Maryborough, and we have a strong pen of bulls contracted for two rounds of action.
Looking at the daysheet, I think the opening round should give most riders a chance to post an early score, but Round 2 reads like an extended Championship Round and qualified rides will be harder to come by. I expect the riding percentage will finish close to the 2022 season success rate of 26% and the ride scores to come out above the average mark of 83-point.
Here are my most anticipated matchups:
Round 1 Matchups
Lachlan Richardson on 910 On Bail (MJ and Keliher Bucking Bulls)
We will kick the night off with a nice matchup that I think will go the way of the cowboy. We saw Cody Heffernan ride this bull at Bloomsbury last month, where he was 84.5 points. On Bail has turned back to the right in both his PBR trips, and he quickly covers ground across the arena. Richardson hasn’t been at his best over the past few months of competition and has slipped to No. 4 in the standings after going just 2-from-13 across his last six tour stops. This looks like an excellent opportunity for the Gresford cowboy to post an early score and put himself back into the gold buckle conversation.
Jake Curr on 560 Holy Poly (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
Curr was one of the hottest riders on tour during June and July. He climbed into the No. 7 ranking off the back of 6-for-7 riding before he suffered an arm injury during the Championship Round at the Cairns Invitational. He returns to competition tonight after two months on the sidelines, and he will face Holy Poly for a second time. This bull has been ridden in half his six PBR outs, with ride scores averaging 85-points. All three of those scores belong to right-handed riders. The left-handed Mount Isa talent made a good start on this bull in Rockhampton last season but was bucked off just short of the 5-second mark. The bull should turn back to the right again, and I give Curr a big chance to make the bell riding away from his hand.
Ben Moran on 727 Bad Romance (BK Bucking Bulls)
Moran is another rider who has had a tough run through the last couple of months on Tour but holds down the 12th spot in the standings despite bucking off his last eight bulls. In the opening round, he has drawn Bad Romance, who has bucked off three straight riders since allowing a couple of mid-80 point scores to start his career. This bull looks to have his pattern worked out now, and he has consistently been turning back to the left, which will be into Moran’s hand. It has been a while since we have seen a left-handed rider attempt this bull, and I give the Yeppoon young-gun a big chance to post a score.
Qynn Andersen on 306 Rambo (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
Rambo has been a tough bull to get by in the past twelve months. He has been ridden just twice from his ten outs, with round-winning scores going to left-handers Aaron Kleier and Braith Nock. The good news for the No. 3 ranked Andersen is that when this bull turns to the right, the top-ranked right-handed riders have made it into the second half of the ride. The Koumala talent has been starting well but has converted just one of those starts into a qualified ride since his 2-for-3 performance in Cairns during July. A score in this matchup will put Andersen in a solid position to contend for the event win, secure the Rookie of the Year gong and maintain contact with Kleier.
Cody Heffernan on 636 POA Reload (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
Heffernan and Reload will go head-to-head for the third time in PBR competition, and the bull enters this matchup with a 2-nil lead. Those buck-off times were 2.62 seconds at Airlie Beach in 2020 and 4.63 seconds at the Bull Pit event in April this season. Lachlan Richardson fell just short of a qualified ride last month in Bloomsbury, and I don’t think it will be long until the cowboys break his 7-out buck-off streak. He will be around to the right and winding across the arena, but he is wild, and his action makes it hard for the rider to stay vertical. The Singleton veteran moved to 2nd in the standings and looks in good form after picking up a round win at Quirindi. A good score here will assist in keeping Kleier’s lead in check.
Aaron Kleier on 617 Roid Rage (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
Kleier is simply on fire. He has won five straight PBR Australia events. He has ridden 11 of his last 12 bulls and covered his last seven bulls for an average score of 85.59 points. He leads the race for the Gold Buckle by almost 235 Championship Points. But in his way is one of the most intense bucking bulls we have ever seen. Roid Rage is also putting up unbelievable numbers this year. He is unridden in 17 PBR Australia outs. In his five trips this season, he has averaged a bull score of 45.50 points and is the front runner in the Bucking Bull of the Year race. He has posted two of the highest marked trips we have ever seen, with a 46.5 and a 47 at Mount Isa in June. These two giants have met up twice previously. Both came in the Challenge of the Champions matchups at Dittmann Bucking Bulls’ Bull Pit in April and August of this year, and the bull defeated the Clermont talent in quick time on both occasions. All eyes will be on this final matchup.