By: Kacie Albert
TOOWOOMBA, Queensland – With just one event weekend remaining prior to the 2020 PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Australia Monster Energy Tour Grand Finals, action was fierce for the first installment of the Toowoomba Invitational, as Kurt Shephard (Mareeba, Queensland) recorded his second event win of the season and two-time Australian Champion Aaron Kleier (Clermont, Queensland) delivered a runner-up finish to further intensify the battle for the PBR Australia Championship.
As one of two riders to go 2-for-2, PBR World Finals qualifier Shephard began the event with an 81-point trip atop Let’s Rock (BK Bucking Bulls).
Shephard then punctuated his perfect performance with a championship round-best, 82-point ride on Jersey Joe (BK Bucking Bulls).
The win is Shephard’s second of the season on the Monster Energy Tour, previously victorious in early October in Mackay, and sixth Top-5 finish of the year. Compliments of the victory, he earned a check for $2,177.40 in addition to 74 national points.
The 26-year-old is now No. 4 in the national standings, climbing one position from No. 5 at the start of the event, as he seeks his third career qualification to the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour Grand Finals in Townsville, Queensland on Nov. 20-21 at the Townsville Entertainment Centre. Shephard trails No. 1 Lachlan Richardson (Gresford, New South Wales) by 270.5 points.
Richardson failed to convert at the first installment of the PBR Toowoomba Invitational double-header. His event came to an early end in Round 1 when he was bucked off by Zoo Animal (BK Bucking Bulls) in a swift 3.51 seconds.
Kleier, who is seeking what would be his historic third consecutive national title, finished second to decimate No. 1 Richardson’s lead top the standings.
The 22-year-old, who was the only other rider to record two qualified rides, covered Mickey Mouse (Peter Wallace) for 80 points in Round 1, and Rata Tat Tat (BK Bucking Bulls) for 78.5 points in the championship round.
Earning $1,379.40 and a crucial 57 national points, Kleier lessened Richardson’s lead from 148.5 to 91.5 national points.
Should Kleier once again win the PBR Australia Championship in 2020 he would become the first rider in league history to win the nation’s championship in three consecutive seasons. Additionally, Kleier would be on the precipice of tying David Kennedy (Kyogle, New South Wales) for winningest rider in Australian history. Kennedy is a four-time PBR Australia Champion, winning the title in 2009-2010, 2012 and 2014.
Following the Toowoomba Invitational double-header, two events remain prior to the 2020 PBR Australia Grand Finals.
Making his triumphant return to competition after reconstructive knee surgery sidelined him for more than 14 months, Cody Heffernan (Singleton, New South Wales) was third.
Heffernan made a statement in his first ride back to competition, winning Round 1 with a commanding 82-point ride on Roger Rabit (ST Bucking Bulls).
Attempting to qualify for his third PBR Australia Grand Finals, the 30-year-old veteran earned $1,219.80 and 45 national points. He is now No. 24 in the national standings, 10.5 points outside of the Top 22 and a berth to the season-culminating event.
Young gun Jake Curr (Mount Isa, Queensland) parlayed an 81.5-point ride aboard Iron Jacket (Peter Wallace) in Round 1 into a fourth-place finish.
He left the Toowoomba Showgrounds’ Indoor Arena, $684 richer, having also earned 32 national points.
Eager to qualify for the first PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour Grand Finals of his career, the 21-year-old solidified his No. 3 ranking in the national standings, now within 251.5 points of No.1 Richardson.
Rounding out the Top 5 in fifth was Brady Fielder (Clermont, Queensland).
Riding False Pretenses (ST Bucking Bulls) for 80 points in Round 1, Fielder’s sixth Top-10 finish of the season propelled him to a $239.40 payday, while also garnering him 15 national points.
Fielder gained one position in the national standings, rising from No. 8 to No. 7, honing within 405.5 points of the top ranking.
In the bull pen, Big Buck Hunter (ST Bucking Bulls) was the high-marked bull of the event. Besting Heffernan in an ever-close 7.83 seconds in the championship round, the powerful bovine athlete was marked a head-turning 44 points.
Fans can relive all the action for the 2020 PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour’s Toowoomba Invitational on RidePass starting at 8:00 a.m. AEST on Sunday, November8 at RidePass.com or via the RidePass app available on iOS, Android and Roku.
The PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour is anticipated to next travel to Airlie Beach, Queensland, and Whitsunday Sportspark for the final regular-season event of the year prior to the 2020 PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour Grand Finals, with the 2020 PBR Airlie Beach Invitational on Saturday, November 14. The tour stop will once again feature a double-header competition, with action getting underway at both 1:00 p.m. AEST and 6:00 p.m. AEST. Stay tuned to PBRAustralia.com.au for the latest event information.
PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour – PBR Toowoomba Invitational 1
Toowoomba Showgrounds: Indoor Arena – Toowoomba, Queensland
Event Leaders (Round 1- Round 2-Event Aggregate-Payout-Australian Points)
1. Kurt Shephard, 81-82-163-$2,177.40-74
2. Aaron Kleier, 80-78.5-158.5-$1,379.40-57
3. Cody Heffernan, 82-0-82-$1,219.80-45
4. Jake Curr, 81.5-0-81.5-$684-32
5. Brady Fielder, 80-0-80-$239.40-15
6. Beau Wills, 73-0-73-
Bailey Woodard, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Ben Gard, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Brendan Buckholz, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Budd Williamson, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Caiden Sandilands, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Cameron McLennan, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Jack Keats, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Jack McArthur, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Jackson Gray, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Jay Borghero, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Kelsey Pavlou, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Lachlan Richardson, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Lachlan Slade, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Lane Mellers, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Lawson Nobbs, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Michael Smith, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Rohan Markham, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Sam Champ, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Sam Woodall, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Ty Thomson, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Zane Hall, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Dan Ruhland, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Brody Woodard, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
Clay Hall, 0-0-0.00-$0-0
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