Kurt Shephard Wins PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour’s Rockhampton Invitational
By: Kacie Albert Saturday, June 12, 2021 @ 10:24 AM
ROCKHAMPTON, Qld – At the third iteration of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Australia Monster Energy Tour Back to the Heartland Series’ Rockhampton Invitational, the already feverish race for the 2021 national title intensified, and the nation’s best duked it out in a last-minute dash to qualify for Team New South Wales or Team Queensland for the 2021 PBR Origin state-vs-state bull riding showdown.
World Finals qualifier Kurt Shephard (Mareeba, Queensland) captured the event win to crack the Top 5 in the national standings, while Aaron Kleier (Clermont, Queensland) reclaimed the No. 1 position in the nation compliments of his runner-up finish, now a season-best 19.5 points ahead of the No. 2-ranked contender.
The PBR Rockhampton Invitational marked the final tour stop for riders to earn points to make each state contingent for the first stop of the 2021 PBR Origin, scheduled for July 3 in Newcastle, New South Wales a the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.
The complete 10-rider teams will be announced June 15, with Kleier slated to captain Team Queensland, and 2017 PBR Australia Champion Troy Wilkinson (Upper Horton, New South Wales) at the helm of Team New South Wales.
Marking his 2021 season debut, Shephard punched his ticket to the championship round of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational after covering Breaking Bad (MJ/Keliher Bucking Bulls) for 78 points in Round 1.
Ninth on the event leaderboard following the opening round, Shephard drew Dittmann Bucking Bulls’ standout Reloaded (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) 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 and 15 world points.
After beginning the event unranked, Shephard surged to No. 4 in the national standings, now within 87.5 points of the top spot as he seeks his first PBR Australia Championship in 2021.
As the only other rider to go a perfect 2-for-2, three-time PBR Australia Champion Kleier finished runner-up to reclaim the No. 1 ranking in the national standings.
In Round 1, Kleier tied for seventh after riding Midnight Hour (MJ/Keliher Bucking Bulls) for 78.5 points.
Returning poised in the championship round, Kleier capped his flawless outing with an 84.5-point effort aboard Ariat’s Flaunt It (Dunne Bulls).
While Kleier fell 0.75 points short of clinching his second event win of 2021, his silver-effort earned him 53.5 national and 8 world points. Kleier, who began the event No. 2 to Macaulie Leather (Calliope, Queensland) by a mere 2 points, is now the top man in the standings, a season-best 19.5 points ahead of new No. 2 Leather.
Attempting to make history in 2021, should Kleier win the national title an unprecedented fourth consecutive time, the Queensland sensation would tie David Kennedy (Kyogle, New South Wales) for most Australian national titles won by one rider in league history. Kennedy topped the national standings in 2009-2010, 2012 and 2014.
Reigning PBR Australia Grand Finals event winner Brady Fielder (Clermont, Queensland) was third, collecting 45 national and 7 world points.
Fielder began the event with a bang, leading the electric crowd at the Great Western Hotel to erupt in raucous cheer when he won Round 1 via an 82-point ride on Scooby Doo (Fred Kleier).
Drawing Australian Bull of the Year contender Cattle King Boogers Beach (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) in the championship round, Fielder proved no match for the powerful bovine athlete, bucked off in a quick 2.58 seconds.
The out was the second time Fielder had been bested by the Dittmann Bucking Bulls’ animal athlete. Cattle King Boogers Beach first bucked off Fielder in Mackay, Queensland, in October 2020, sending the cowboy to the ground in 5.29 seconds.
Despite Fielder’s event ending short of the 8-second whistle, his bronze showing allowed him to further his stronghold on the No. 3 ranking in the national standings, now within 45.5 points of No. 1 Kleier.
Rookie sensation Leather was fourth.
Going 1-for-2 in his fourth consecutive event, Leather delivered the second-best score of Round 1, an 81.5-point ride on Comeback Kid (Dittmann Bucking Bulls), before getting bucked off by Pretty Boy (Peter Wallace) in 4.34 seconds in the championship round.
Leather collected 32 national and 4 world points for his efforts. He remained the top contender for the 2021 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year honor, but slipped to No. 2 in the broader national standings, now 19.5 points behind new No. 1 Kleier.
Rounding out the Top 5 in fifth was Lachlan Slade (Tamworth, New South Wales).
His efforts, which netted the 27-year-old 19 national and 3 world points, were headlined by an 81-point ride on Chemical Weapon (MJ/Keliher Bucking Bulls) in Round 1.
Slade’s hopes for his first event win since 2018 came to a heart-breaking conclusion when he was dispatched by POA Fully Locked & Loaded (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) in an ever-close 7.59 seconds in the championship round.
In the bull pen, Cattle King Boogers Beach continued his dominance, logging his fourth consecutive Bull of the Event honor, as he tied for the top-score award alongside Razor Sharp (Peter Wallace) at the PBR Rockhampton Invitational.
Both marked 44 points in the championship round, Cattle King Boogers Beach earned the impressive marks for his buckoff of Fielder, while Razor Sharp registered his score compliments of his 2.8-second trip with 2016 PBR Australia Champion Cody Heffernan (Singleton, New South Wales).
Fans can relive all the action from the third iteration of the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour Rockhampton Invitational, part of the Back to the Heartland Series, on RidePass starting at 8:00 a.m. AEST on Sunday, June 13 at RidePass.com or via the RidePass app available on iOS, Android and Roku.
PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour – PBR Rockhampton Invitational 3
Great Western Hotel – Rockhampton, Queensland
Event Leaders (Round 1- Round 2-Event Aggregate-Payout-Australian Points-World Points)
1. Kurt Shephard, 78-85.5-163.5-$2,168-65-15
2. Aaron Kleier, 78.5-84.5-163-$1,534.08-53.5-8
3. Brady Fielder, 82-0-82-$1,356.59-45-7
4. Macaulie Leather, 81.5-0-81.5-$760.70-32-4
5. Lachlan Slade, 81-0-81-$519.81-19-3
6 (tie). Lawson Nobbs, 80.5-0-80.5-$0-9.5-1.5
Cody Heffernan, 80.5-0-80.5-$0-9.5-1.5
8. Beau Willis, 80-0-80-$0-6-0
9. Josh Cavanagh, 78.5-0-78.5-$0-3.5-0
Bailey Woodard, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Lachlan Richardson, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Dan Ruhland, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Lane Mellers, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Sam Woodall, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Caiden Sandilands, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Kelsey Pavlou, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Joseph Down, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Taran Chirgwin, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Wyatt Milgate , 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Mitchel Paton, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Troy Wilkinson, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Zane Hall, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Eli Bee, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Sam Spencer, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Joshua Jones, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
Oscar Leake, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0
JN Bennett, 0-0-0.00-$0-0-0