After nearly seven months without bullriding, the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour is set to return on Saturday afternoon with QSEC Arena playing host to the 2020 Caboolture Invitational with a daysheet crammed full of the best bullriders in the country.
With the reworked schedule charting a path to the 2020 PBR Australia Grand Finals taking shape, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to take a quick look back at the first five events from the 2020 season as a refresher before the tour resumes.
Just a week after Clermont’s Aaron Kleier picked up his second consecutive PBR Australian National Championship at the 2019 Grand Finals, the tour headed south and into New South Wales with Tamworth hosting the Iron Cowboy event.
A talented group of Brazilian and American riders were in the country to ride against the best Australia has to offer. Goias duo Eduardo Aparecido and Rubens Barbosa filled the top two positions on the aggregate leaderboard, but it was Brady Sims who took home the buckle. The Missouri cowboy took full advantage of the event format when he covered Wranger’s Volatile (Kasper Bucking Bulls) for 83.5 points to win the Championship Round and the Iron Cowboy title.
The following week the tour headed further south to the Victorian capital for the Melbourne Invitational, and it was the Australian riders who relished the return to the traditional format, bouncing back strong to fill the Top-10 positions on the event leaderboard.
Coonamble’s Nathan Burtenshaw proved the doubters wrong with a dominant win to finish an injury-riddled 2019 on a high. Burtenshaw went 3-for-3 and moved to the No. 1 spot in the 2020 PBR Australian National Standings thanks to an outstanding 88-point bull ride aboard oOh! Mr Buckmore (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls) in the Championship Round.
Aaron Kleier and Lachlan Richardson applied the pressure to Burtenshaw in the final round, but they were unable to better his high score and had to settle for the minor placings.
We closed out the calendar year under the big fan on a warm Rockhampton night with the Great Western Touring Pro on New Year’s Eve. The 25-rider field featured plenty up and coming talent alongside a handful of returning veterans.
The night belonged to the bulls and stock contractors, with just six qualified rides posted on the night. A single ride score of 86.5 points was enough to get Moura’s Lawson Nobbs over the line in his final tour stop before heading stateside to compete. He rode Suga Boom Boom (BK Bucking Bulls) in the opening round.
Lane Mellers and Aaron Kleier finished second and third respectively after they both posted mid-range scores in Round 1.
After a two-month break, 27 riders headed to South Australia’s Mid North for the resumption of PBR Australia competition and the annual Marrabel Touring Pro.
Upper Horton’s Troy Wilkinson made his debut appearance of the new Australian season, and he emerged victorious with an aggregate total of 156 points. The 2016 PBR Australian National Champion was the only rider to finish with two scores from two attempts thanks to rides aboard Jerry (Throsby & Russell Bucking Bulls) and Aussie Dollar (Woodall Rodeo Co).
Ty Thomson and Will Purcell were the best of the riders with one score and filled the podium positions.
In the final event before the COVID-19 Pandemic took hold, the Monster Energy Tour returned to Victoria for the Ballarat Stampede. It was a dominant showing by some of the rankest bucking bulls in the country who limited the 27-rider field to just three qualified rides.
Lachlan Richardson put together an outstanding two-ride performance to take home the buckle. After posting a low score in Round 1, the Gresford talent combined with The D.O.C (Brandenburg and MJ Bucking Bulls) in the Championship Round to register a monster ride worth 89.5 points to claim the 28th PBR win of his career.
Will Purcell put together the remaining qualified ride in the opening round to finish the event in second place.
Thanks to his big win in Ballarat, Lachlan Richardson moved to the top of the 2020 PBR Australian National Standings Leaderboard. Under the new points system adopted by the PBR and PBR Australia, the 27-year-old leads the way with 145.5 points.
In his rear-view mirror is the defending PBR Australian National Champion Aaron Kleier on 118 points with Nathan Burtenshaw just behind in third on 115.5 points. Victoria’s Will Purcell sits in fourth place on 96.5 points.
The schedule, from here, is very condensed and with multiple events at most tour stops, and it is shaping up to be a mad dash to Townsville and the 2020 PBR Australia Grand Finals.