Game Notes – Rockhampton
By: Kacie Albert Thursday, September 9, 2021 @ 6:12 AM
ROCKING OUT TO ROCKHAMPTON – This weekend, for the fifth time in 2021, and 28th time in league history, PBR Australia will travel to Rockhampton, Queensland. Marking the fifth iteration of the Monster Energy Tour’s PBR Rockhampton Invitational, action at Great Western Hotel for the Back to the Heartland Series event will get underway Saturday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. AEST.
THIS WEEKEND’S FORMAT – The PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour’s Rockhampton Invitational at Great Western Hotel will feature two rounds of bull riding. After each of the 23 competing riders attempt one bull each in Round 1, the 14 bull riders with the top ride scores will then advance to the championship round where they will attempt one final bull in an effort to be crowned the event champion.
KLEIER FURTHERS STRONGHOLD ON NO. 1 RANK – After making history in 2020, becoming the first rider in history to win the PBR Australia Championship in three consecutive seasons, Aaron 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. Compliments of both a win at the most recent Monster Energy Tour event in Rockhampton, and a strong third-place result this past weekend in Burnett Heads, Kleier is on pace to achieve the feat. While Kleier traveled to the late July event in Rockhampton atop the national standings, a flawless 2-for-2 showing earned him his second event win of the year and allowed him to further his lead over No. 2 Macaulie Leather to 82.33 points. In Round 1 from the Great Western Hotel, Kleier got off to a hot start, becoming the first rider to cover Vertical Limits when he reached the requisite 8 for an 86.5-point score. Drawing King Kong in the championship round, a poised Kleier matched the bull jump-for-jump, logging an event-best, 88-point qualified ride. Adding to the impressive nature of the ride, Kleier became the first rider since November 2019 to cover King Kong. Ending the bull’s eight-out buckoff streak, Kleier joined seven-time PBR World Finals qualifier Lachlan Richardson as the only two riders to have ever successfully ridden King Kong. Despite a more than one-month break from competition, Kleier remained red-hot when the league travelled to Burnett Heads, Queensland this past weekend, going a perfect 2-for-2 to finish third. In Round 1 of the Touring Pro Division event, Kleier was sixth, covering Slink E Malinki for 80 points. Kleier then capped his performance in Burnett Heads with an 83.5-point effort atop Bang Ya Drum in the championship round. The Queensland sensation’s sixth Top-5 finish of the season netted him 18.5 national points, allowing him to increase his lead over No. 2 Leather to 99.83 points. Kleier has ridden five consecutive bulls and will look to earn his third victory of the year in Rockhampton. He’ll first attempt Milky Way Man in Round 1.
RICHARDSON REBOUNDS, WINS BURNETT HEADS – 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 most recent 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 score 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. He’ll look to continue his winning ways in Rockhampton, first going head-to-head against Gangster’s Retreat.
LEATHER’S DOMINANT ROOKIE SEASON – In 2021, young gun Macaulie Leather put the bull riding world on notice. When the 2021 season got underway in early May in Rockhampton, Leather made his PBR debut, finishing fourth and surging to No. 4 in the early national standings. Going 1-for-2, Leather’s Top-5 finish was headlined by his 86-point effort aboard Iron Jacket in Round 1, which also marked his first-ever ride at a PBR event. As the season continued the very next day at Great Western Hotel, Leather began the event 48 points behind then No. 1 Aaron Kleier. In an effort that won’t soon be forgotten, Leather dominated Round 1, topping the leaderboard with an 88.5-point score on Dance Monkey and catapulting himself to the event victory. Earning a crucial 65 national points, Leather rocketed to the top of the national standings, propelled 17 points ahead of No. 2 Kleier. As the season pushed onward in late May at the first-ever Touring Pro Division event held in conjunction with the North Queensland Elite Jr. Rodeo, Leather maintained his lead atop the standings, going 1-for-2 to finish sixth. Despite finishing fourth at the next event of the season held in Rockhampton, Leather slipped to No. 2 behind Kleier and has been chasing his countryman ever since. At the most recent events, Leather battle Kleier for the event win at the late July event held in Rockhampton, finishing second by a mere point. As the event began, Leather went the distance aboard Ranga for a Round 1-best 87 points. In addition to earning Leather the round victory, the score snapped Ranga’s 10-out buckoff streak. Leather became just the second rider in the striking bovine athlete’s career to reach the whistle. As the last man to leave the chutes, Leather needed an 87.5-point score to reclaim the event lead from Kleier. While the Queensland rookie would cover Cattle King King’s Ransom, his 86.5-point effort was not enough to surpass Kleier on the leaderboard. At the most recent Australian event held last weekend in Burnett Heads, Leather finished ninth, covering Big Bang Theory for 83 points. Leather will look to decimate Kleier’s 99.83-point lead atop the race for the 2021 PBR Australia Championship at the fifth iteration of the Rockhampton Invitational when he attempts Get A Haircut in Round 1.
Despite his young career with the league, Leather has already developed a rivalry with a top bovine athlete – Cattle Kings Boogers Beach – facing off against the bull in his first three PBR events. After the Dittmann Bucking Bulls’ bovine athlete bested Leather in 6 seconds at the season-launch tour stop in Rockhampton, marked 45 points, Boogers Beach once again bucked off Leather in the second Rockhampton event’s championship round, this time dispatching him in a quicker 2.49 seconds to earn a 45.5-point score. In Alice River at the North Queensland Elite Junior Rodeo, Boogers Beach bested him in 3.66 seconds to earn a 45-point score. All three trips earned Boogers Beach the High-Marked Bull of the Event honor. With Cattle King Boogers Beach slated to return to the draw in Rockhampton, Leather may have the opportunity to avenge his past buckoffs.
SHEPHARD’S SURGE RIDES ON – PBR World Finals qualifier Kurt Shepard has his sights fixed on one goal in 2021 – the PBR Australia Championship. With an impressive season already beginning to take shape, Shephard has positioned himself within striking distance of the No. 1 ranking. The No. 3 ranked rider in the national title race is150.83 points removed from the top position. Shephard began the season with a bang, winning his first event of the year at the mid-June event in Rockhampton. As the event got underway, 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 his first victory since November 2020. Shephard left the Great Western Hotel having earned 65 national points. After beginning the event unranked, Shephard surged to No. 4 in the national standings. Shephard next returned to the arena as a member of Team Queensland for the 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. When the Monster Energy Tour returned to Rockhampton in late July, Shephard was once again inside the Top 10, concluding the Back to the Heartland Series event eighth. Competing at last weekend’s Touring Pro Division event in Burnett Heads, Shephard’s momentum continued to build, finishing runner-up. Shepard reached the whistle in both rounds, covering Tezzas Pride for 83 points in Round 1, before outlasting The Pet for 85 points in the championship round. Collecting 28.5 national points, Shephard climbed one position in the national title race, rising from No. 4 to No. 3. Ahead of this weekend’s edition of the Rockhampton Invitational, where Shephard will face Damage Control in Round 1, he trails No. 1 Aaron Kleier by 150.83 points.
FIELDER FIGHTS FORWARD – While Brady Fielder left Townsville last season with the Grand Finals event title, this season he is hoping to exit the season-culminating event with the coveted PBR Australia Championship. And this weekend in Rockhampton, he’ll begin the Monster Energy Tour event with building momentum. At the most recent event held in the Queensland city in late July, Fielder finished fourth after going a perfect 2-for-2. In Round 1 Fielder rode Code Blue for 84 points, and then covered Super Natural for 85.5 points in the championship round. Fielder earned 32.33 national points, climbing from No. 5 to No. 3 in the standings. As the season continued this past weekend in Burnett Heads, Fielder was once again inside the Top 10, finishing eighth. His effort was headlined by his Round 1 ride aboard Ranga, marked 84 points. Fielder will travel to this weekend’s event at Great Western Hotel ranked No. 4 in the nation, within 152.67 points of No. 1 Aaron Kleier. Fielder will attempt to gain ground on Kleier when he climbs aboard Catfish Billy.
FRASER FINDS HIS GROOVE – For Cody Fraser, son of former Australian rodeo champion Scott Fraser, he hit his stride at the most recent PBR Australia event held in Burnett Heads, Queensland. After getting shutout in his career-first PBR event, going 0-for-1 at the late-July event in Rockhampton, Fraser went a perfect 2-for-2 this past weekend to finish fifth at the PBR Bull Mania. Marking just his second PBR event, the 23-year-old registered his first qualified ride with the league when he rode Dance Monkey for 76 points in Round 1. Fraser’s momentum continued in the championship round when he again reached the buzzer, this time scored 83.5 points atop Makin 8 Bucksnort. The career-best finish earned Fraser 10.5 national points, catapulting him from unranked to No. 18 in nation. Fraser will look to gain further ground in the national title race when he attempts Little Bitty in Round 1 of the season’s fifth iteration of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational.
FAMILIAR WATERS – Round 1 of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational will feature two rematches, with neither rider having experienced past success aboard their draw. Caiden Sandilands will once again go head-to-head with Mixed Culture, eager to avenge a buckoff from 2018. The duo first danced more than three years ago in Julia Creek, Queensland, with Mixed Culture getting the better of Sandilands in 3.7 seconds to earn a 41.5-point score. In his 18 trips since, Mixed Culture has been ridden just three times, including twice by three-time, and reigning, PBR Australia Champion Aaron Kleier. Jack Keats will also climb aboard a bull he has previously attempted – Comeback Kid. The two first found their names across from one another in 2020 during the opening iteration of the double-header event in Bundaberg, Queensland. Proving the more dominant athlete, Comeback Kid brought Keats down in 2.73 seconds to earn a 41.5-point bull score.
PAST ROCKHAMPTON EVENT WINNERS – One of the longest tenured events in PBR Australia history, since the Queensland city welcomed the league for the first time in 2006, PBR has held a total of 27 events in Rockhampton, including four tour stops already held in 2021. The complete list of past winners is as follows:
Aaron Kleier (2021)
Kurt Shephard (2021)
Macaulie Leather (2021)
Aaron Kleier (2021)
Sam Woodall (2020)
Aaron Kleier (2020)
Lawson Nobbs (2020)
Lawson Nobbs (2019)
Ryan Storey (2018)
Jason Mara (2018)
Bailey Woodard (2017)
Lachlan Richardson (2016)
Fraser Babbington (2015)
Roy Dunn (2015)
David Kennedy (2009)
Kevin “Jock” Connolly (2009)
Cody Heffernan (2008)
Ben Seeds (2008)
Ben Jones (2007)
Budd Williamson (2007)
Ben Keliher (2007)
Denny Farley (2006)
Ben Jones (2006)
Steven Clark (2006)
Ryan Storey (2006)
Wayne Brokenbrough (2006)
Heath Shrimp (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 seven of the eight 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. Cattle King Boogers Beach will look to continue his dominance in the championship round at the PBR Rockhampton Invitational.
Apart from Cattle King Boogers Beach, Razor Sharp is the only other bull to each 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 most recent event held in Burnett Heads, Queensland. Razor Sharp was marked 44.5 points for his 2.1-second buckoff of Sam Payne. Much like Cattle King Boogers Beach, Razor Sharp will return to action this weekend in the championship round of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational.
PROVIDING PROTECTION – This weekend’s protection athletes are Jayden Hakaraia of Rockhampton, Queensland; Gus Roberts of Yeppoon, Queensland; and Shane “Maddog” Simpson of Mackay, Queensland.
NEXT UP – The 2021 PBR Australia season will continue Saturday, October 2 in Rockhampton, Queensland at Great Western Hotel. Action for the Monster Energy Tour’s Rockhampton Invitational will get underway at 7:00 p.m. AEST.
ROCKHAMPTON COMPETITORS BY COUNTRY
Australia (23) – Qynn Andersen, Taran Chirgwin, Jake Curr, Brady Fielder, Bryn Francis, Cody Fraser, Lane Howlett, Jack Keats, Aaron Kleier, Macaulie Leather, Lane Mellers, Wyatt Milgate, Lawson Nobbs, Mitchel Paton, Kelsey Pavlou, Sam Payne, Lachlan Richardson, Daniel Rogan, Dan Ruhland, Caiden Sandilands, Kurt Shephard, Beau Willis, Bailey Woodard
BREAKDOWN BY STATE –
New South Wales – Lachlan Richardson, Daniel Rogan, Queensland – Qynn Andersen, Taran Chirgwin, Jake Curr, Brady Fielder, Bryn Francis, Lane Howlett, Jack Keats, Aaron Kleier, Macaulie Leather, Lane Mellers, Wyatt Milgate, Lawson Nobbs, Mitchel Paton, Sam Payne, Dan Ruhland, Caiden Sandilands, Kurt Shephard, Beau Willis, Bailey Woodard; South Australia – Cody Fraser; Victoria – Kelsey Pavlou.