The 2018 Mackay Invitational serves as the fourth last regular-season event of the extended 2018 PBR Australia season.
Riders will have to get past a tough pen of bulls provided by some of Australia’s Top Stock Contractors if they are to earn points towards the Australian National Standings and fully cement their position in the Top 20 to qualify for November’s PBR Australia Grand Finals.
With a maximum of 700 Australian National Standings points available this weekend and only 275 points separating the riders ranked between 18th and 30th, the opportunity is there for riders to make a big move this weekend in Mackay.
Round 1 Matchups
Fraser Babbington vs Fire Ball (Fred Kleier)
I think this bull looks a good fit for Babbington. The 2015 PBR Australia Champion has been mixing his form over the last few events but has a chance to regain momentum here. Lachlan Slade rode Fire Ball for 85.5-points to finish third in the long-go here in 2017 with Matt Triplett also getting the job done for 82.75 points in Cairns earlier this year.
Cody Heffernan vs Ram N Ewe (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
Heffernan has been one of the most consistent riders on tour since PBR Australia action resumed in Newcastle last month. We have only seen this bull out twice, recording two buck-offs in Mount Isa back in June. The 2016 PBR Australia Champion looked very good last weekend in Blackall, covering Chrome for 84.0 points and I think he should be able to get a score on the board.
Aaron Kleier vs 5th Battalion (Dunne Bucking Bulls)
Ratings Leader Kleier could not have dreamt for a better draw here. The 2017 Rookie of the Year rode 5th Battalion at Last Cowboy Standing in 2017 for 86.0 points and we should see a similar result here. Kleier has covered his last 6 bulls while the bull has been ridden in his last two outs, with Matt Triplett and Jared Parsonage both making the whistle at the PBR Global Cup in Sydney.
Mitchel Paton vs Plant Hire (Dunne Bucking Bulls)
Paton went 3-for-3 to win the Touring Pro Division event last weekend in Blackall, QLD but has a tough task in front of him here. In his eight outs in PBR competition, Plant Hire has added some of Australia’s best riders to his list of buck-offs. Paton has covered five of his last six and will be pumped up to perform well at his home event, so we could see a qualified ride here.
Bailey Woodard v High Class Hooker (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
This bull is quickly becoming a rider favourite with qualified rides recorded in three of his last five outs. Woodard and High Class Hooker have faced twice before with the bull winning both matchups at Last Cowboy Standing and the Innisfail Touring Pro event in 2017. Woodard is in much better form heading into this matchup following his 2-for-3 effort in Blackall last weekend where he took out the Championship round with a brilliant 87.0-point ride on Hooker’s pen-mate Shots.
Round 2 Matchups
Fraser Babbington vs Disco Duck (Diamond J Buking Bulls)
Babbington faces a bull that we haven’t seen too much of in the last year, but Disco Duck did put together some nice outs during in the 2017 season. American JW Harris got the job done for 84.5 at Last Cowboy Standing before the bull changed pens and if he produces a similar out, he should be right (left) into the Kiwi’s wheelhouse and Babbington should have no troubles getting by.
Aaron Kleier vs Bring It On (Diamond J Bucking Bulls)
Last time these two matched up the bull came away with the win, putting the 19-year-old in the dirt just before the whistle blew. Bring It On regularly posts bull scores upwards of 43.5-points and remains unridden through 11 outs in PBR competition. This will be one of the most anticipated matchups at the Mackay Invitational this weekend and I think Kleier will get a big score.
Michael Smith vs POA Ray Ban (Dittmann Bucking Bulls)
We haven’t seen the best of this bull in the last few events but with the long break between outs, I would expect him to be back at his best. Ray Ban produced four straight bull scores over 44-points back in the Autumn PBR run with just one qualified rider recorded (Heffernan, 89 in Shepparton). It looks a tough draw for Smith, but it will be matchup to watch.
Ryan Storey vs Superstitious (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
The Mackay cowboy looks a good chance to make it to the whistle here. This bull was last out at Mount Isa where he was ridden both nights by Bailey Woodard scored 83.5 points on his way to winning night 1 while Lachlan Richardson was awarded 80-points on his way to finishing second on night 2. Storey will have to have to hustle out of the chutes, but I think this bull fits him well enough to get a score on the board.
Matthew Bee vs Iron Jacket (Wallace Bucking Bulls)
Iron Jacket has become a rider favourite in his short seven-out career, combining with right handed riders for three round wins in the 2018 season. Bee looked to be in good form at the Newcastle Invitational last month, covering two of his three bulls. If he can carry his Monster Energy tour form through to the Mackay Invitational, we may see him combine with the bull to put up some good numbers.