LEADING: Aaron Kleier at Bendigo Showgrounds in Victoria.
LEADING: Aaron Kleier at Bendigo Showgrounds in Victoria.

Clermont cowboys compete for crown

The nation’s best professional bull riders are down to the wire in a fierce battle for this year’s PBR Australia title, with just nine weeks to go until the pinnacle PBR Monster Energy Tour Grand Finals in Townsville.

Taking place at Townsville Entertainment Centre over two bumper nights on November 15 & 16, the PBR Grand Finals mark the final and deciding chapter in the hotly-contested 2019 PBR Australia season.

The critical event will attract 18 of Australia’s top riders, as well as four key internationals, for an epic head-to-head showdown that will decide the coveted 2019 PBR Australia National Champion title.

The riders will also matchup against some of the best bucking bulls in the country — the supreme animal athletes that earn ‘superstar’ status in of one of the world’s fastest growing sports.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of PBR in Australia, and the Grand Finals in Townsville are the biggest celebration of the sport’s growth from when we launched the national tour in 1999, said PBR Australia General Manager, Glen Young.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting such a marquee event in the same town as the PBR Australia headquarters — and the Townsville community has always welcomed us and our sport with open arms.”

2018 PBR Australia Champion Aaron Kleier (Clermont, QLD) is set to return to Townsville in a bid to nab consecutive national titles.

Kleier, currently sits atop the PBR Australia Standings, having successfully backed up a breakout runner-up finish in 2017, and an inaugural Australian Championship win in 2018.

With just over two months to go until the PBR Australia Grand Finals, Kleier holds a commanding 785.83 point lead over his nearest rival, fellow Clermont (QLD) young-gun Brady Fielder.

Fielder, ranked #2 on the current PBR Australia Standings, looks primed to take out the 2019 Rookie of the Year title, and could make a run for the National Championship with some stellar results in the tail end of the season.

COMPETITOR: Brady Fielder.
COMPETITOR: Brady Fielder.

No stranger to rising to big occasions, 19 year-old Fielder has scored six top-3 finishes in PBR Australia tour events this year, including three PBR title wins in Newcastle, Marrabel and Cunnamulla.

Despite his youth, the fearless Fielder already sports his fair share of bull riding battle injuries — he’s not only lost vision in his left eye, but also sustained a punctured lung.

Also in the mix for this year’s national Championship is current PBR Australia #3, Cody Heffernan (Singleton, NSW).

Heffernan started the year looking virtually untouchable on top of the national leaderboard, however, a string of injuries have hampered his run at a second national title.

Heffernan, the 2016 PBR Australia Champion, said: “At the beginning of the year, I thought this was going to be my year again, and that no one was going to beat me. Then injury struck and forced me to sit out the last few competitions. I’m feeling good again now though, and I’ve found knee braces that will allow me to keep riding with a torn PCL on my right knee, and an ACL injury on my left knee that will need surgery at some point.

An upbeat Heffernan added, “I rode three practice bulls with the braces on last weekend with no trouble, so things are looking up. I’m off to Mackay to compete at the end of the month, and I fully expect to be in contention for this year’s title, despite the time away with injuries.”

Fellow Hunter Valley cowboy and PBR Australia #4 Lachlan Richardson (Gresford, NSW) is also hoping to put injury and a mid-season slump behind him to make a last-ditch run at this year’s national title.

The 26-year-old consolidated his top-4 ranking with a morale-boosting third-place finish at Newcastle last month. Richardson said it was a crucial return to form after injury and a string off disappointing buck-offs.

“You work hard at it every single day, and then the results don’t show. It annoys you, but it also makes you hungry for next week. I had a bit of bad luck there for a bit, but you’ve just got to keep working at it,” Richardson added.

“Confidence is a really big thing in this sport, and I feel good, healthy and ready to go.”

2019 was the first season in Richardson’s career that he did not embark on a summer run through the PBR tours in the USA and Canada. Grounded in Australia due to Visa issues, Richardson says he has enjoyed the break from international competition.

“It’s great to be home. It wears you out being over there [in the USA] your whole life, so I’m happy to be back here for a bit,” Richardson said. “I enjoy working and doing fun stuff on the farm, and I get to live with my fiancée — so life is good,” he explained.

Sitting just behind his younger brother is Cliff Richardson (Gresford, NSW) at #5 on the PBR National Standings.

Runner up to National Champion Kleier in the 2018 title race, Cliff started the year strong however has failed to find consistency in the middle of the PBR Australia season. With a recent win in Grafton under his belt, Cliff has his sights set on bettering his #2 Grand Final position this year.

In addition to crowning Australia’s top bull rider, the PBR Grand Finals will also be the deciding event in the race to the Stock Contractor of the Year title.

Throsby & Russell, the 2018 title winners, currently lead the National Stock Contractor Standings, followed by Dittman Bucking Bulls at #2, and Brandenburg Bucking Bulls at #3.

Brandenburg Bucking Bulls, who were the 2017 PBR Australia Stock Contractors of the Year, are headed up by 23 year-old female bull breeder Dakota Brandenburg.

Brandenburg, who first started working with bulls when she was 13 years-old, cares for around 140 bulls at any given time. At the age of 18, she became the youngest female bull owner and trainer in the country — and now manages the day-to-day feeding, training, diet and vaccinations all the balls in her care.

All of the top three stock contractors are renowned in an industry that prides itself on going the extra mile to ensure its animal athletes are cared for and conditioned to perfection.

The action-packed PBR Grand Finals will also see Country music singer Ryan Weaver perform, straight from the USA.

Before becoming the Patriotic Voice of PBR in the US, Weaver was a Military Intelligence Analyst and then a Black Hawke Aviator who was deployed to Baghdad International Airport. He has since toured the US with the PBR performing at sell-out events and is looking forward to performing in Townsville on his first trip to Australia.

Tickets are on sale for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Monster Energy Tour Grand Finals in Townsville at www.tecc.net.au.

Kleier currently sits atop the PBR Australia Standings, having successfully backed up a breakout runner-up finish in 2017, and an inaugural Australian Championship win in 2018.

With just over two months to go until the PBR Australia Grand Finals, Kleier holds a commanding 785.83 point lead over his nearest rival, fellow Clermont (QLD) young-gun Brady Fielder.

Fielder, ranked #2 on the current PBR Australia Standings, looks primed to take out the 2019 Rookie of the Year title, and could make a run for the National Championship with some stellar results in the tail end of the season.