Game Notes – Mackay
By: Kacie Albert Thursday, October 7, 2021 @ 7:06 PM
MAKING MOVES IN MACKAY – This weekend, for the eighth consecutive season, PBR Australia will travel to Mackay, Queensland. Action at BB Print Stadium for the Back to the Heartland Series event will get underway Saturday, October 9 at 7:00 p.m. AEST.
Including the PBR Mackay Invitational, presented by Kent Hire, four events remain prior to the 2021 PBR Australia Grand Finals Nov. 26-27 in Townsville, Queensland. With an intense battle underway for the 2021 PBR Australia Championship, the Top 5 riders in the nation will travel to Mackay within 174 points of one another. This weekend, one rider will have the chance to earn 80 national points.
THIS WEEKEND’S FORMAT – The PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour’s Mackay Invitational at BB Print Stadium will feature two rounds of bull riding. The event champion will be the rider with the highest total score from their two draws.
HISTORIC LIVE STREAM – This weekend’s PBR Mackay Invitational, presented by Kent Hire, will make broadcast history, slated to be the first Australian sporting event offered via Facebook LIVE streaming. For $4.49 AUD, fans will be able to purchase a season-pass to watch the remaining five events of the year LIVE on Facebook. To purchase the Facebook LIVE stream of the events via Facebook Pay, fans should visit the official event page here, and select get access.
SHEPHARD SETS SIGHTS ON AUSTRALIAN TITLE – PBR World Finals qualifier Kurt Shepard has his sights fixed on one goal in 2021 – the PBR Australia Championship. Last weekend in Rockhampton, Shephard took a large step forward in actualizing that goal, clinching his second event win of the year after going 2-for-3 at the Great Western Hotel. As action got underway for the sixth event of 2021 in Rockhampton, Shephard was quick to strike, covering Iron Jacket for 85.5 points and second place in Round 1. The ride was the second of Shephard’s career aboard the bovine athlete. He first rode him for 85 points at a 2018 iteration of the tour stop in Rockhampton. In Round 2, Shephard, however, was unable to replicate his initial success, brought down by Bang Ya Drum in a hard-fought 4.98 seconds. Despite the buckoff, the 27-year-old’s opening round effort was enough to earn him one of the coveted six positions in the championship round. Shephard returned collected, readying to face the previously unridden Razor Sharp. Undeterred by the 2021 PBR Australia Bull of the Year contender’s impressive resume, Shephard erupted from the chutes, and in near picture-perfect form, reached the 8-second whistle for an event-best 89 points. The golden finish earned Shephard a crucial 75.5 national points, allowing him to surpass Macaulie Leather for the No. 2 position in the national standings. After beginning the tour stop 150.83 points behind No. 1 Aaron Kleier, Shephard is now within 84.33 points of No. 1 ranking.
The 2021 season has been a career-best year for Shephard. Competing at seven events to date on home soil, the Mareeba-native has registered a Top-10 effort in each outing. He has gone a torrid 12-for-17, covering 70.58% of his bovine athlete counterparts. Shephard notably began the season with a bang, winning his first event of the year at the mid-June tour stop in Rockhampton. Shephard punched his ticket to the championship round of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational after covering Breaking Bad for 78 points in Round 1. Ninth on the event leaderboard following the opening round, Shephard drew Dittmann Bucking Bulls’ standout Reloaded as his final opponent. Making the 8 for a championship round-best 85.5 points, Shephard catapulted to the top of the event standings, capturing what was his first victory since November 2020. Shephard was also a key competitor for Team Queensland during the 2021 PBR Origin tournament. In addition to helping the Maroons to victory in the state vs. state competition, Shephard notched a ninth and second-place finish in the individual standings in Brisbane and Cairns, respectively.
One of two defending PBR Mackay Invitational event champions, Shepard will face last weekend’s Bull of the Event, Flyin Hippie, in Round 1, before facing a rematch with Drag Iron in the championship round from BB Print Stadium.
KLEIER STUMBLES, TITLE RACE TIGHTENS – Last weekend in Rockhampton, one rider was noticeably absent from the championship round – three-time PBR Australia Champion and current No. 1 Aaron Kleier. Kleier, uncharacteristically, finished the tour stop eighth, earning just 9 national points, and opening the door for the other contenders to gain ground in the national title race. Kleier went 1-for-3 in Rockhampton, recording his lone qualified ride in Round 2 when he went the distance aboard Amigo for 81 points. After beginning the tour stop 138.33 points ahead of the field, Kleier is now just a mere 84.33 points ahead of No. 2 Kurt Shephard. Kleier will look to regain his winning ways in Mackay, slated to face Meet Ya Maker in Round 1 and Red Flash in Round 2.
After making history in 2020 by becoming the first rider in history to win the PBR Australia Championship in three consecutive seasons, Kleier is attempting to further etch his name in the league record books in 2021. Should he once again be crowned the national champion, Kleier would tie David Kennedy for most Australian national titles won by one rider in league history (4). Kennedy topped the national standings in 2009-2010, 2012 and 2014. Kleier is currently tied for most event wins in Australia in 2021, with two, and is tied for third most round wins with three. Additionally, Kleier is one of two riders to have recorded a 90-point score in 2021. Responsible for the high-marked ride to date this year in Australia, Kleier covered Black Tuxedo in his first draw of the season for a monstrous 90.5 points. The ride propelled him to the event win and led him to sure to an early No. 1 ranking in the national title race.
FIELDER FINDS MOMENTUM – Reigning PBR Australia Grand Finals event winner Brady Fielder made moves in the national standings compliments of his runner-up effort at the most recent Monster Energy Tour event held in Rockhampton. Rebounding from a Round 1-buckoff early in the event, Fielder went 2-for-3 to finish second at the PBR Rockhampton Invitational and earn 67 national points. While Bad Moon dealt Fielder a 6.64-second buckoff in Round 1, he quickly righted course in Round 2, topping the field courtesy of an 86-point effort atop Ariat’s Ol’ Son. The score not only punched Fielder’s ticket to the championship round, but also allowed him to avenge a buckoff from the 2020 season. Ariat’s Ol’ Son and Fielder first went head-to-head in Airlie Beach last November, with the powerful bull getting the better of Fielder in 4.31 seconds. Fielder continued his climb up the leaderboard as the event came to a climactic end, covering Big Buck Hunter for a season-best 88 points to clinch the silver finish in the championship round. After beginning the event ranked No. 4 in the national standings, Fielder is now the No. 3 rider in Australia. He trails No. 1 Kleier by 133.17 points.
The silver finish was Fielder’s seventh Top-10 effort of his 2021 campaign. He has done 9-for-20, covering 45% of his draws While Fielder is still on the hunt for his first event win of 2021, he has registered two round victories. In Mackay, Fielder will attempt to continue his climb up the national standings when he attempts Reloaded in Round 1 and Random Assault in Round 2.
NOBBS CRACKS TOP 5 – For 24-year-old Lawson Nobbs, he is hopeful that his 2021 campaign on home soil will conclude with him crowned the PBR Australia Champion Nov. 27 in Townsville, Queensland. And compliments of a third-place result at last weekend’s Monster Energy Tour event in Rockhampton, Nobbs is chartering a course that could help him actualize that goal. Going 2-for-3 at the Great Western Hotel, Nobbs recorded his sixth Top-10 finish of the year. On the spurs of a heart-breaking 6.47-second buckoff atop Dirty Money in Round 1, Nobbs regained his title-contending form in Round 2 when he covered Makin 8 Bucksnort for 82 points. The 24-year-old then delivered his second qualified ride of the event when he bested Ambush for an 85.5-point score in the championship round. Nobbs left the Great Western Hotel having earned a much-needed 48 national points. He rose two positions in the race for the 2021 PBR Australia Championship, climbing from No. 7 to No. 5. Nobbs now trails No. 1 Kleier by 174 points.
To date in 2021, Nobbs has earned two event victories, tied for most in 2021 in PBR Australia competition. He has also nabbed one round win. Collectively, the Moura, Queensland-native has gone 9-for-17, covering 52.94% of his bovine athlete opponents. Nobbs will look to register his third consecutive qualified ride when the tour travels to BB Print Stadium and he attempts Rockslide in Round 1. As the tour stop continues with Round 2, Nobbs has drawn POA Fully Locked & Loaded.
RICHARDSON FIGHTS FORWARD – After beginning his 2021 campaign in electric fashion, finishing second at the first event of the year in Rockhampton, seven-time PBR World Finals qualifier Lachlan Richardson struggled to find success as the season continued. In his next six events, including two installments of the PBR Origin tournament where he represented Team New South Wales, Richardson went a dismal 1-for-10. However, at the September event in Burnett Heads, Richardson was back to his winning ways. Delivering a flawless 2-for-2 performance, Richardson captured his first event win of the year, victorious at the PBR Bull Mania at Burnett Heads Field. As one of 10 riders to deliver a qualified ride in the opening round, Richardson punched his ticket to the championship round when he delivered the third-best score, marked 83.5 points atop Bad Moon. Matched up against Flyin Hippie in the final round, Richardson surged to the top of the event leaderboard when he delivered the high-marked ride of the event. Making the requisite 8, Richardson was scored 87.5 points. Richardson earned a crucial 39 national points for his efforts, cracking the Top 5 in the race for the 2021 PBR Australia Championship. Following the event in Burnett Heads, Richardson rode his way to a Top-10 finish at the fifth Monster Energy Tour event of the year in Rockhampton, concluding the tour stop seventh. Going 1-for-2, Richardson rode Gangster’s Retreat for 75.5 points.
Last weekend, for the sixth iteration of the Monster Energy Tour’s Rockhampton Invitational, Richardson finished fourth to gain even more ground on No. 1 Kleier. As the lone rider to cover his opening two draws, Richardson advance to the championship round as the No. 1 rider on the event leaderboard. After winning Round 1 via an 86-point ride aboard Tezzas Pride, the famed New South Wales rider declined a re-ride after making the 8 on Breaking Bad in Round 2 for 74.5 points. The decision, however, proved to work against Richardson. Bucking off Black Tuxedo in a quick 3.77 seconds in the final round, Richardson’s opening scores were not enough to retain his position atop the standings. While his event may have ended in less-than-ideal fashion, Richardson still gained ground in the PBR Australia standings. Remaining No. 6, he inched within 174.83 points of No. 1 Kleier, after beginning the event 203.83 points back. As the season continues this weekend in Mackay, Richardson will attempt Roid Rage before his much-anticipated rematch against Cattle King Boogers Beach in Round 2.
FAMILIAR WATERS – Round 1 of the PBR Mackay Invitational, presented by Kent Hire, will feature five rematches, with two riders having experienced past success aboard their draw. For three-time and reigning PBR Australia Champion Aaron Kleier he will look to remain perfect against Meet Ya Maker. The duo of athletes went head-to-head earlier this season during the Touring Pro Division held in tandem with the North Queensland Elite Junior Rodeo. Kleier finished second in Round 1 of the event after covering Meet Ya Maker for 86 points en route to a third-place overall finish at the tour stop. Surging young gun Macaulie Leather is the only other rider to have previously covered his Round 1 draw. Last week in Rockhampton, Leather rode Tribal for 79.5 points in Round 2 of the sixth iteration of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational. For the trio of Beau Willis, Brady Fielder and Lawson Nobbs each will be keen to avenge a past buckoff. Meeting at the second event of the year in Rockhampton, Iron Man made quick work of Willis, sending him to the ground in 2.32 seconds. In five outs on record, the Peter Wallace standout Iron Man has yet to be ridden. Also renewing a rivalry first witnessed earlier this season, Fielder will attempt to reverse his fortunes aboard Reloaded. The Dittmann Bucking Bulls’ bovine athlete dispatched Fielder in 5.87 seconds this May in Townsville, Queensland. With the longest tenured rivalry, Nobbs will climb aboard Rockslide, first squaring off against the animal athlete during the 2019 PBR Australia Grand Finals. Earning a 42.25-point bull score, Rockslide bucked off Nobbs in 2.56 seconds.
As the PBR Rockhampton Invitational continues with Round 2, five riders will once again face familiar opponents, including Willis and Nobbs who have both drawn their second rematches of the event. Both riders initially attempted their draws, Notorious and POA Fully Locked & Loaded, respectively, during the 2017 season. Willis was dispatched in 2.45 seconds during the Townsville Iron Cowboy, while Nobbs was bested in 2.35 seconds during the tour stop in Julia Creek, Queensland. In Round 2, however, all eyes will be on the showdown between seven-time PBR World Finals qualifier Lachlan Richardson and Bull of the Year contender Cattle King Boogers Beach. After the powerful bovine bested Richardson in 3.67 seconds during the 2020 Tamworth Iron Cowboy, Richardson became the first rider to cover the bull during the 2020 PBR Australia Grand Finals, marked 87.75 points. The score snapped the bull’s seven-out buckoff streak. In Cattle King Boogers Beach’s nine outs since, just one other rider has covered the bull. During PBR Origin II – Cairns, Lachlan Slade reached the requisite 8 for a monstrous 90 points. Cattle King Boogers Beach has bucked twice since, both resulting in buckoffs. Australian No. 1 Kleier was the most recent to attempt the bovine, bucked off in 3.57 seconds in mid-September in Rockhampton.
The remaining Round 2 rematches are:
Kurt Shephard vs. Drag Iron (2020 Beaudesert, Queensland – Round 1 | 6.22 seconds)
Taran Chirgwin vs. Black Tuxedo (2021 Burnett Heads, Queensland – Round 2 | 1.8 seconds)
PAST MACKAY EVENT WINNERS – In 2020, Mackay was one of seven cities that welcomed the league for a regular-season double-header tour stop following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the opening iteration of the Mackay Invitational in 2020, Lane Mellers captured his career first event victory on home soil courtesy of a perfect 2-for-2 performance. As one of just two riders to cover both of his draws, Mellers began the event with an 81-point effort aboard Cattle King Ray Ban in Round 1. Continuing the momentum in the championship round, Mellers punctuated his flawless performance with an 83-point trip atop Freckles Brown. Earning 74 national points, the golden finish catapulted Mellers 21 positions in the national standings as he surged from No. 28 to No. 7. Mellers concluded the year with his third consecutive qualification to the PBR Australia Grand Finals, ranked No. 8 in the national standings. At the second Monster Energy Tour event held in Mackay, staged the later that day, World Finals qualifier Kurt Shephard clinched the win. Fresh off a fifth-place result in the opening edition of the double-header, Shephard tied for third in Round 1 when he made the 8 aboard 25 to Life for 82 points. Remaining red-hot, Shephard rose to the top of the event leaderboard when he won the championship round courtesy of an 85.5-point ride on Black Tuxedo. The Queensland-native’s win earned him a critical 72.5 national points, elevating him 14 positions in the national standings from No. 18 to No. 4. Shephard finished the 2020 season a career-best No. 3 in the national standings. The complete list is past Mackay event winners includes:
Kurt Shephard (2020)
Lane Mellers (2020)
Brady Fielder (2019)
Ryan Storey (2018)
Fraser Babbington (2018)
Guy Ford (2017)
Cody Heffernan (2016)
Fraser Babbington (2015)
Ben Seeds (2014)
Aaron Sutton (2006)
BULL PEN – Thus far in 2021, one bull has been dominant – Cattle King Boogers Beach. Hailing from the deep roster from Dittmann Bucking Bulls, Cattle King Boogers Beach has bucked at eight of the 10 PBR Australia events held to date, earning the top bull score in each of his outs. As the season got underway with a doubleheader in Rockhampton, Cattle King Boogers Beach was first marked 45 points for his 6-second buckoff of Macaulie Leather before posting an improved 45.5-point score for his swifter 2.49-second buckoff of Leather the next day. Cattle King Boogers Beach returned to the arena in Townsville for the Touring Pro Division event held in tandem with the North Queensland Elite Junior Rodeo, tying for the top bull honors with fellow Dittmann bovine athlete POA Fully Locked & Loaded. Both bulls posted a 45-point score. Cattle King Boogers Beach again bucked off Leather, this time in 3.66 seconds, while POA Fully Locked & Loaded sent Bailey Woodard to the dirt in 3.94 seconds.
At the final Monster Energy Tour event held prior to the start of the 2021 PBR Origin tournament, Cattle King Boogers Beach wowed again, turning in a 44-point score to lead the bull pen when he dispatched Brady Fielder in a quick 2.58 seconds. Boogers Beach split the honor in Rockhampton with Razor Sharp from Peter Wallace, who earned his score compliments of his 2.8-second trip with Cody Heffernan. As the 2021 PBR Origin tournament got underway in Brisbane, Cattle King Boogers Beach was back to being the top bovine athlete. He turned in a 44-point score when he denied Lachlan Slade a qualified ride, bucking off the Team New South Wales rider in 3.38 seconds. When the PBR Origin tournament continued in Cairns, Queensland, Cattle King Boogers Beach again tied for the top honor with Razor Sharp, both marked 45 points. Boogers Beach teamed with Slade for a 90-point ride, while Razor Sharp dispatched Kurt Shephard in 3.22 seconds. Cattle King Boogers Beach returned to the bullpen in late July when PBR Australia returned to Rockhampton for the fourth time in 2021. Drawn by Daniel Rogan, Cattle King Boogers Beach was marked an event-best 44.5 points for his 2.69 seconds of work. Last bucking at the fifth installment of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational, Boogers Beach kept his streak alive, tying for the honor of top-marked bull when he was marked 43.5 points for his 3.57-second buckoff of Aaron Kleier.
Apart from Cattle King Boogers Beach, Razor Sharp is the only other bull to earn the top score at multiple tour stops. A three-time recipient of the honor to date in 2021, after tying with Boogers Beach for the top score at the third event of the year in Rockhampton, and the Origins event in Cairns, Razor Sharp earned the honor exclusively at the event held in Burnett Heads, Queensland. Razor Sharp was marked 44.5 points for his 2.1-second buckoff of Sam Payne. Razor Sharp lad the bull pen entering last weekend’s tour stop in Rockhampton. While he fell just short of posting the top score, the bovine athlete was marked a respectable 44 points when he was covered by Kurt Shepard for 88 points. The score was the first on record atop Razor Sharp, ending the bull’s buckoff streak at 16 outs.
Flyin Hippie will be back in action after a career-best outing last weekend in Rockhampton. Earning his first Bull of the Event honor of 2021, the Peter Wallace bovine was marked 45 points for his 2.68 seconds of work against Wyatt Milgate. In 16 outs on record, Flyin Hippie has been ridden just twice. Kleier became the first to cover the bull in Bundaberg, Queensland in 2020, marked 89 points. The score put an end to the bull’s nine-out buckoff streak. After besting the next three riders to attempt him, Flyin Hippie was next covered by Richardson this September in Burnett Heads for 87.5 points. Bucking twice since, neither Beau Willis, nor Milgate, were able to make the 8.
PROVIDING PROTECTION – This weekend’s protection athletes are Jayden Hakaraia of Rockhampton, Queensland and Shane “Maddog” Simpson of Mackay, Queensland.
NEXT UP – Following a two-week break, the 2021 PBR Australia season will continue Saturday, October 30 in Emerald, Queensland at the Emerald Showgrounds Rodeo Arena. Action for the Monster Energy Tour’s Emerald Invitational, presented by Kent Hire, will get underway at 7:00 p.m. AEST.
MACKAY COMPETITORS BY COUNTRY
Australia (19) – Qynn Andersen, Brumby Brandenburg, Taran Chirgwin, Jake Curr, Brady Fielder, Lane Howlett, Joshua Jones, Jack Keats, Aaron Kleier, Macaulie Leather, Lawson Nobbs, Mitchel Paton, Lachlan Richardson, Dan Ruhland, Caiden Sandilands, Kurt Shephard, Troy Wilkinson, Beau Willis, Sam Woodall
BREAKDOWN BY STATE –
New South Wales – Lachlan Richardson, Troy Wilkinson; Queensland – Qynn Andersen, Brumby Brandenburg, Taran Chirgwin, Jake Curr, Brady Fielder, Lane Howlett, Joshua Jones, Jack Keats, Aaron Kleier, Macaulie Leather, Lawson Nobbs, Mitchel Paton, Dan Ruhland, Caiden Sandilands, Kurt Shephard, Beau Willis; Victoria – Sam Woodall.