I’d just like to start things off this week by congratulating Aaron Kleier and Lachlan Richardson for finishing the regular season inside the Top 35 in the 2020 PBR World Standings!
Kleier is ranked 24th in the world, with Richardson sitting in 31st place.
It has been a tough road through COVID-19 for all cowboys this year, so for them to find themselves in qualification spots for the 2020 PBR World Finals is pretty cool.
I will leave my scheduling gripes for another year – Let’s take a look at what went down over the weekend as PBR Finals season kicked off.
2020 PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour
All of the talk heading into the 2020 Toowoomba Invitational was the race for the 2020 PBR Australian National Championship.
After beginning the weekend 148.5 points adrift of the top spot in the PBR Australian National Standings, Aaron Kleier took full advantage of a rare 0-for-2 tour stop from Lachlan Richardson to trim the gap to just 26.5 points as we enter the final fortnight of the season.
Kurt Shephard and Jake Curr also benefited from the Richardson shut-out, both gaining ground to give themselves a chance to get within 200-points of the No. 1 ranking with a strong result next week at Airlie Beach.
This week in my preview, I will dive into the Top-22 bubble race, so stay tuned for that.
Kurt Shephard won Event 1 to pick up his second Bob Berg Event Champion buckle of the season.
The Mareeba talent entered the Championship Round in third place after he put together a good 79-point ride aboard Let’s Rock (BK Bucking Bulls) in the long round. The bull started the trip away from his hand but reversed mid-ride and Shephard finished strong.
Shephard then made it 2-for-2 with a qualified ride in the Championship Round. He faced Jersey Joe (BK Bucking Bulls) and made a nice ride away from his hand for 82-points, giving the 26-year-old an aggregate total to 163 points.
Aaron Kleier finished runner-up the afternoon session, beginning with an 8-second bull ride on Mickey Mouse (Wallace Bucking Bulls) into his hand for 80-points.
That score set up a matchup with Rata Tat Tat (BK Bucking Bulls) in the fourth slot of the Championship Round, and the reigning PBR Australian National Champion made that work into his hand for 78.5 points. Kleier’s aggregate total was 158.5 points.
Cody Heffernan made his return to PBR Australia competition after a long injury lay-off, and the Singleton bull rider wasted no time, winning Round 1 with 82-points aboard Roger Rabit (ST Bucking Bulls).
As the number one seed in the Championship Round, the 2015 PBR Australian National Champion faced Big Buck Hunter (ST Bucking Bulls), and Heffernan went super close to capping off a fairy-tail return with a clean sweep, but the clock was stopped at 7.83 seconds after the 30-year-old slapped the bull.
Jake Curr finished fourth after he combined with Iron Jacket (Wallace Bucking Bulls) for 81.5 points in Round 1.
Completing the rundown were Brady Fielder, who was 80-points on False Pretenses (ST Bucking Bulls) and Beau Willis, who rode Shotgun (ST Bucking Bulls) for 73 points.
The high-marked bull of the first event was Black Tuxedo from Wallace Bucking Bulls who was was marked 43.5 points in his 2.56-second final round matchup with Jake Curr.
The 21.05 riding percentage came in just below the season average of 22.40%, and the average ride score was 2.5 points lower than season average of 82.26 points. The bulls came in almost half a point below the season average with 40.79 points.
The bulls dominated the evening event, but Aaron Kleier did enough to claim his third event win of the season.
The Clermont cowboy teamed up with Django (Wallace Bucking Bulls) for the Round 1 win. Kleier looks outstanding riding away from his hand once again during the 85.5-point trip.
In the Championship Round he couldn’t handle Black Tuxedo (Wallace Bucking Bulls), but after all other riders had bucked off the win was guaranteed.
Mt Walker young-gun Ty Thomson recorded the best finish of his short career, finishing runner-up to make a big push up the standings.
The 19-year-old put together an excellent ride into his hand aboard The Pet (ST Bucking Bulls) for 84.5 points in the opening round.
Finishing in third place was 20-year-old Joseph Down, who also posted qualified ride in Round 1.
The Warrnambool talent held the early lead after he handed the direction change of Sargent Fix (ST Bucking Bulls) for 84-points.
The final rider to receive a score was Lachlan Slade. The Tamworth based cowboy became the second rider to post a Saturday score on Let’s Rock, marked 72-points.
Wallace Bucking Bulls again took home the high-marked bull of the event away with Pretty Boy marked a very impressive 44.5 points against Cody Heffernan in short-time during the long round.
I will also mention Razor Sharp from the Wallace pen, who was again outstanding, marked 44-points during the Championship Round with Lachlan Slade aboard.
The riding percentage was the second-lowest of the season at 10.53%. The average ride score was 0.76-points below the year mark, and the bulls were almost spot on their season average with 41.09 points.
2020 PBR Canadian National Finals
Callum Miller was the standout performer in Canada over the weekend, going 5-for-6 to finish 4th in the 2020 PBR Canadian National Standings.
The Warwick cowboy split the Event 1 in Grande Prairie with Zane Lambert after they both amassed 173-points through two rounds.
Miller shared the Round 1 win with 86 points on Finning Nikki Sixx (Flying Four Bucking Bulls), and he then rode Finning Lil Shorty (Flying Four Bucking Bulls) for 87 points in the Championship Round.
In Event 2, the 25-year-old finished ninth with a 79.5 point ride in the long round aboard All Business (Two Bit Bucking Bulls) but he was unable to make it stick in the short-go.
Event 3 was contested as a single round, and he combined with Arm Strong (Vold Rodeo) for 84-points to split second in the event.
The Top-15 from the Canadian Standings then took on the best bulls in Canada for a final Championship Round. Miller rode Stuntman Hank for 87.5 points to record another second-place finish.
28-year-old Saskatchewan cowboy Dakota Buttar won the 2020 PBR Canada National Championship.
2020 PBR Velocity Tour Finals
Mackay’s Ky Hamilton was looking for a strong result to qualify for the PBR World Finals, but he finished 1-for-2 against a tough pen of Classic and Derby bulls and missed the Championship Round in South Dakota.
After bucking off Little Hott (TM Cattle CO./BS Cattle Co.) who posted 44.5 points in Round 1, the 20-year-old made amends with 85-points aboard Anthrax (EVP Bucking Bulls) in the second long round.
Hamilton split 15th three-ways in the event, which was won by Texan Mason Taylor with a 2-for-3, 181 point weekend.
The 21-year-old tied with Utah’s Kyler Oliver for the 2020 Velocity Tour Championship, but Taylor was crowned the champion with prizemoney the deciding factor in the countback.
Stay tuned to Ride The Rage for full coverage of this week’s PBR action.