PBR Rocky 2018 showcases CQ's tough bull riding competition
RODEO: THERE were more than a few heart stopping moments at Saturday night's 25th Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Monster Energy Tour: Rockhampton Invitational event.
With 23 bull riders from across the country saddling up and bracing some of the toughest bulls in the sport at Browne Park, it was sure to be a night to remember.
Drawing in third place with Atherton's Kurt Shephard was Rockhampton cowboy Jason Mara.
Coming off his second bull of the night, the 32-year-old was impressed with the passionate crowd and quality of competition.
"It just shows how strong an area we are in,” he said.
"They're competitive boys, everyone is, but around here, there's a lot of good young fellas coming through and it takes some riding to beat them too.
"The guys are sticking on some tough bulls. It's a big deal.”
Mara's second bull was an important one for him, as it had come from a prominent rodeo family.
"I was pretty happy to get on that bull,” Mara said.
"The owner got killed in a tragic accident not long ago so I was chuffed to have a draw on it. It was a privilege.
"They do a good job to bring these bulls, hats off to them.
"I knew it would be a tough task, but I knew if I did my job and got it done it would hopefully work out and they'd give me a score.”
Despite being bucked off early, Mara's third place was still an achievement.
"It won't sit me up as high as I'd like but it's just a personal confidence to make sure I can still ride those good bulls. That's what I wanted,” he said.
Mackay bull rider, Ryan Storey, took out first place and his second consecutive PBR title.
As fans rushed to greet the 33-year-old champion, he remarked on the undeniable riding talent within Rockhampton and Central Queensland.
"Rockhampton always their bull riding, especially PBR and with this set up they have here and this evening, they're going really good,” he said.
"There's a few boys that don't fall off much like Cody Heffernan and Aaron Kleier (Clermont).
"They're pretty consistent, but in saying that, once you do your job it's out of your hands.
"I'm there cheering for them and hoping to see a great ride. It gees you up.”
Storey noted that Rockhampton has "always been a hub” for the region's aspiring young bull riders.
"They've got so much stuff for the youth here,” he said.
"St Brendans, the Great Western Hotel and little incentives. It will only go from great to great.”
Addressing his win, the 59th world ranked cowboy said second place, Cody Heffernan's performance was "second to none”.
"He's one of them guys who doesn't fall off,” Storey said.
"He was a bit unlucky with his last bull but it was a great ride. Look out for him next round.”
Australia's highest ranked rider, Clermont's Aaron Kleier, came out in 8th place overall.
Kleier was pegged as one to watch by fellow riders.
His second bull of the night, King Kong, is owned by his stock contractor father.
After their first rides, Lawson Nobbs and Cayden Sandilands were ruled out of the competition after sustaining injuries.
Nobbs suffered a broken leg and Sandilands received a concussion.
PBR market research analyst, Amanda Tuimalealiifano said organisers were happy with the "successful event”.
"It had a good crowd of all ages and it was good to be back here in the community,” she said.
"We had some good rides on Saturday night and we're on our way to the grand finals which will be here in November. It's pretty exciting leading to that.
"We have specific contractors that we used around Australia that are known for having some of the best bulls and I think, as people saw in the bull riding Saturday night, they're definitely the top bulls in Australia.
"We make sure we have the best animal athletes against the best riders.”