The Morning Line – 2021 Mackay Invitational
By: Josh Hanson Saturday, October 9, 2021 @ 10:05 PM
Tonight, the cowboys will be tested across two long rounds as they go head to head against a pen of bulls that features a very similar makeup to what we can expect to see on the opening night of the 2021 PBR Australia Grand Finals.
The top-6 in the 2021 PBR Australia National Standings are separated by under 175 points, making it one of the tightest title races that we have seen in many years. The maximum amount of points one rider can collect tonight is 80-points, so while we won't see a chance at the top, every ride matters with just four regular-season stops remaining before Townsville.
With the standings in mind, and the bull power engaged, this edition of The Morning Line will focus on the riders currently in the title race. Let's see how the contenders for the gold buckle fared in the draw:
No. 6 – Lachlan Richardson (-174.83 points)
The Gresford cowboy went 2-for-3 to finish in fourth place last weekend at Rockhampton to continue his march up the standings leaderboard.
In the opening round, Richardson has drawn Roid Rage from Dittmann Bucking Bulls. This bull is unridden in his eight trips at this level. He has posted an average bull score of 43.19 points with buck offs coming at an average time of 3.53 seconds. Roid Rage added some handy righties to his list of unsuccessful cowboys across the PBR Origin series including Brady Fielder and Cody Heffernan. His regular trip is to the left, which puts him away from Richardson's hand.
The 28-year-old's task in Round 2 is Cattle King Boogers Beach from Dittmann Bucking Bulls. These two have matched up twice for a win each. The bull posted 43.50 points in 3.67 seconds at Tamworth in 2019, whilst Richardson was 87.75 points at last season's finale. Boogers Beach has taken his performances to the next level this season, winning eight bull of the night awards, averaging 44.56 points a trip and allowing just one score to Lachlan Slade for 90-points. He will turn back to the right.
No. 5 – Lawson Nobbs (-174.00 points)
Nobbs has the third-best riding percentage on tour this season, and he comes into this event fresh off a 2-for-3, third-place finish in Rockhampton.
Rockslide from Dunne Bulls is the bull he has drawn in Round 1. This is a rematch from the 2019 Grand Finals, where the bull defeated the Moura cowboy in 2.56 seconds with a trip worth 42.25 points. Just one rider has received a score aboard this bull in the past two years, with Bailey Woodard marked 84-points at the Cairns Origin event in July. Rockslide likes to mix up his trips.
The 24-year-old faces POA Fully Locked & Loaded from Dittmann Bucking Bulls in the second round. These two fought it out at Julia Creek in 2017, with the bull posting 45.5 points on his way to winning in 2.35 seconds. We have only seen Fully Locked & Loaded a handful of times in what looks to be his final season on tour, but we can expect him to turn back the right and be away from Nobbs' riding hand. Lane Mellers got the job done last time out in Brisbane for 85.5 points.
No. 4 – Macaulie Leather (-141.33 points)
Lady luck has not been on Leather's side of late, and that has seen him slip back a couple of spots in the standings, but it won't take much for him to regain his early-season form.
In Round 1, the Calliope young gun faces Tribal from Dunne Bulls for the second time. Last weekend in Rockhampton, they teamed up for 79.5 points, but neither athlete was at his best on that occasion. This bull has only been ridden twice in his career from fourteen outs. He tends to start with a long hop to the centre of the arena and favours a turn to the left.
His second opponent for the night is Razor Sharp from Wallace Bucking Bulls, who sits second in the bull of the year competition. This bull bucked off his first sixteen riders before he was conquered by Kurt Shephard in the Championship Round last Saturday at Rockhampton for 89-points. The bull has averaged a bull score of 44-points so far in 2021, with most riders down in under 3.5 seconds. Razor Sharp will turn back into the 20-year-old's left riding hand.
No. 3 – Brady Fielder (-133.17 points)
Fielder let a couple of golden opportunities slip by in September, but he gained back all the ground he lost with a runner-up finish last weekend in Rockhampton on 2-for-3 riding.
First up for the 21-year old is Reloaded from Dittmann Bucking Bulls. This is a rematch from the North Queensland Elite Rodeo Touring Pro earlier this year, where the bull came out on top in 5.87 seconds with a career-high 44.5-point bull score. Reloaded has been ridden four times from eight trips this season, with qualified rides averaging 87-points. This bull's regular trip is around to the right.
Statistically, Random Assault from Dunne Bulls appears to be the most favourable draw of the group in Round 2, and Fielder gets a chance to improve the cowboy's record. This bull has given up three scores from his last four outs. The latest qualified ride went to Sam Woodall for 85.5 points last weekend in the opening round at Rockhampton. He will be around to the right and into the Clermont talent's hand.
No. 2 – Kurt Shephard (-84.33 points)
1st, 9th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 3rd and 1st. That is the rundown of Shephard's seven tour starts in 2021 with an extraordinary riding percentage of 70.59%. Enough said.
The Atherton cowboy goes up against Flyin Hippie from Wallace Bucking Bulls in Round 1. This bull was the high marked bull of the night last weekend in Rockhampton, where he posted a career-high 45-points. He has turned back to the left in most of his trips, and he catches plenty of air. Lachlan Richardson was 87.5 points at Burnett Heads during September. Shephard will be just the second top-flight leftie to attempt Flyin Hippie, with Aaron Kleier successful with 89-points in 2020.
Drag Iron from Dunne Bulls awaits Shephard in the second round, and this is a rematch from Beaudesert last year, where the bull won in 6.22 seconds. The bull takes a hop or two to clear the gate and can turn back in either direction. In his previous matchup with Shephard, he turned right and away from the 27-year-old's hand. Brady Fielder was the last rider to ride time on Drag Iron, and that was for 86-points at the Grand Finals last season.
No. 1 – Aaron Kleier (359.33 points)
Kleier has ridden seven of his last nine bulls. He is tracking along nicely with seven top-3 finishes from his 9 starts with an outstanding season riding percentage of 68.18%.
A rematch opportunity greets the three-time National Champion late in the opening round. He matched up with Meet Ya Maker from MJ Bucking Bulls and Brandenburg Bucking Bulls at the North Queensland Elite Rodeo Touring Pro back in May and came away with 86-points. This bull doesn't have the punch out of the gate that many other bulls in the round have. That gives all riders a chance to make a good start, evidenced by the average buck off time coming in at 6.24 seconds. Meet Ya Maker should turn right and away from the Clermont bull rider's hand.
The 23-year-old goes up against Red Flash from Kleier Bucking Bulls in the final out of Round 2. This will be another matchup where the bull is expected to turn back away from Kleier's left riding hand. The bull hasn't shown us too many tricks in his last few trips and looks to have a pretty good tempo and can wind his way across the arena. Red Flash has been ridden once from his five trips at this level, and that 84.5 points score went to Brady Fielder at the PBR Origin event in Cairns during July.