As the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour enters the final stretch of the 2019 season, TnR Bucking Bulls look well placed to go back-to-back and secure a second Stock Contractor of the Year title.
The Edward Throsby and Mitch Russell partnership has amassed 3475 points so far this year and hold a healthy lead of 805 points over Dittmann Bucking Bulls with just six events remaining before the Grand Finals in Townsville.
“Variety. Our breed variety. We’re not afraid to go out and buy genetics or a good bull off anyone in Australia or America,” said Mitch Russell, when asked what has made the Hunter Valley operation so successful over the past two seasons.
“We like to try a lot of different things, but it also comes from the number of the cattle we are breeding,” he added.
“We have got a lot of bulls at home, and last week, for instance, we took 90 different bulls to three different rodeos. So, there is a bit of depth there.”
TnR’s impeccable herd depth has been on show this season in PBR Australia competition with nine separate bovine athletes producing bull scores of over 44 points.
Throsby and Russell have flanked 19 of the 47 bulls ridden for round wins with TnR’s stock carrying riders to win over $24,000 in round prizemoney.
“Yeah, I’m pretty confident actually,” said Russell, speaking of the trust he has in the resilient TnR bull herd as they hunt a second Contractor of the Year buckle.
“When you put twenty [bulls] on a truck and go to Adelaide, 1500 kilometres away, and they buck, that’s a big achievement. Nearly every single one of those bulls is branded with the same brand. So, home-bred bulls,” he said proudly.
“We have the mothers, and we have the fathers. So that’s pretty cool.”
After winning the 2018 Stock Contractor of the Year title, TnR has gone on to provide bucking bulls for almost 32% of PBR Australia outs in the 2019 season and produced the high marked out at eight events so far this season.
TnR kicked off the new season with back-to-back Champion Bull Team wins at the Melbourne Invitational and Adelaide Invitational. Riders covering TnR stock won five of the six rounds of competition at these events.
The team then made it five wins from six events after taking home a trio of buckles from consecutive events in Bendigo, Ballarat and Traralgon during a gruelling road trip that spanned three states and seven weekends.
Bull team regulars Call Me Joe and Mr Buckmore have led the charge for TnR, recording average bull scores of 43.25 and 43.17 points. Both bulls bucked well throughout autumn and into the winter events to remain the team’s best chances at claiming a maiden Bucking Bull of the Year crown.
Seven-year-old Call Me Joe has combined with riders to earn a season-leading $6,970.52 and has three high marked bull awards to his name.
Queensland’s stock contractors went on to rule the run of events from June through to August, taking home all four available Bull Team wins.
Dittmann Bucking Bulls were the big movers, racking up three victories and moving into a clear second place on the Stock Contractor of the Year leaderboard.
“Brisbane [Last Cowboy Standing in June] was our worst event we’ve ever been to. The bulls bucked, but they just didn’t fire. They were just pretty common in our eyes, but you know, winter hit pretty hard down here,” said Russell.
“But the sun’s out down here, they’ve had a little bit of rain, and the bulls went to a rodeo the other day, and they looked really good,” he added hopefully.
The future looks bright for TnR with several bulls in contention for the 2019 PBR Rookie Bucking Bull of the Year award competing at the 2019 Grafton Invitational this Saturday.
“It’s always good to have the veteran bulls, but you’ve got to have some young bulls that are going to fire as well”.
Russell says the unridden Hammer McKenzie, who currently sits second in the Rookie Bull race with a six out average bull score of 42.75 points has a bright future ahead of him and has touted him as an up and coming short-round bull.
“Hammer McKenzie is big, strong, and he kicks like a mule, but he’s still got to settle down and work his stuff out.”
Crackalackin is another promising bull that has had three trips so far this season and has averaged an impressive 43-point bull score without a qualified ride being posted.
“I think he could be the better of the two,” said Russell of the four-year-old. “He has settled down a little bit more and is starting to get pretty good.”
Russell also nominated Feel The Fire and Broken Halo, who both made their debuts back in the 2018 season, as bulls that will be prominent members of the team for years to come.
“I thought that once these bulls had a bit of a spell [they] were going to probably be two of our bulls that we will probably call on. They’ve matured and put on a hundred kilos over the winter, and I just reckon they’re going to be two consistent bulls that we can go on with next year.”
“Not superstars but very good, 42 or 43-point bulls every weekend,” said Russell adding “When you can put them on a truck, do a thousand kilometres, and turn out 43-point bulls every weekend you will do pretty good.”
TnR Bucking Bulls get a chance to extend their lead in the 2019 Stock Contractor of the Year race this weekend in Grafton. From there, the PBR Australia Monster Energy tour heads to Mackay in Queensland for what will be the home event for Dittmann Bucking Bulls.
“Jason [Dittmann] and a few others are right behind us, and we are not going to throw ourselves down and let them win. We’re going to try harder and make it harder for them to get,” said Russell enthusiastically.
“To beat them kind of guys, like Dittmann Bucking Bulls, that’s going to be the biggest achievement because the pen of bulls that Jason has, is freaking outstanding.”