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Bull Riding Battle Wodonga-Bound as PBR Announces Bumper Competition Lineup

Archived 5 Jun 2018 - Posted: 5 Apr 2018
Reserved seating for this Saturday’s Wodonga Invitational almost sold out – Organisers encourage fans to get in quick to avoid having to stand

Top cowboys from across Australia and abroad have been confirmed for Wodonga’s biggest ever bull riding competition this Saturday April 7, with Professional Bull Riders Australia (PBR) today announcing a bumper line-up for the 2018 PBR Monster Energy Tour Wodonga Invitational.

Tickets are still on sale for the Wodonga Invitational, however, reserved seating is selling fast so event organisers are encouraging fans to get in quick to avoid having to stand. General admission tickets also went on sale today, Thursday April 5.

A total of 34 bull riders have been accepted to the stacked competition field, including the top ranked riders on the 2018 Australian Standings – Aaron Kleier, Fraser Babbington, Cody Heffernan, Cliff Richardson, Justin Paton, Bailey Woodard and Budd Williamson.

Six-time world qualifier Lachlan Richardson is also confirmed to compete, along with Global Cup contender Sonny Schafferius and PBR tour rookie Ky Hamilton, who will be looking to back-up strong results so far this season.

The inclusion of Lachlan Richardson in the line-up is a coup for local fans, with the Gresford-born cowboy usually based in the US competing on the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.

Richardson will be looking to reach a major career milestone in Wodonga. Provided he notches a qualified ride at the event, he will reach 250 rides on the PBR Tour.

Since turning pro at the age of 18, Richardson has been one of Australia’s most celebrated bull riders – notching multiple titles, competing at the PBR World Finals and, most recently, making a successful return from a bicep injury that sidelined him from the sport for six months.

Sure to give Richardson a run for his money will be twenty year-old Clermont sensation Aaron Kleier, who arrives in Wodonga leading the 2018 Australian Standings, following a breakout 2017 season which saw him crowned Rookie of the Year and narrowly pipped to the PBR Australia title.

Kleier is one of the most consistent performers on the PBR Australia Tour at the moment, riding more bulls than anyone else on the circuit. He is also one of only three Australians so far to have qualified for the second leg of the inaugural PBR Global Cup in Sydney on June 9-10.

The Global Cup is the sport’s most prestigious team title, contested by the world’s premier bull riding nations USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Brazil.

2015 PBR Australia champion Fraser Babbington is also set to compete in Wodonga and will be looking to secure last-minute qualification points to make Australia’s Global Cup team.

Though Babbington is New Zealand-born, he is eligible to take up one of the 14 coveted spots on Australia’s Global Cup squad.

Babbington heads into Wodonga in the best form of his career as the second-ranked rider on the 2018 Australian Standings, having secured an impressive PBR title win in Bendigo earlier last month.

Though he’s looking to retire at the end of the 2018 season, Babbington is intent on showing that experience can prevail over youth in his battle royal with Kleier for the Australian title.

Equally in the mix for this year’s Australian title and Global Cup qualification is 2016 PBR Australia champion Cody Heffernan, who arrives in Wodonga fresh off the back of a win in Shepparton last month.

Heffernan’s standout performance in Shepparton, which some spectators billed “the best bull riding ever seen in the country”, saw him move up to #3 on the Australian Standings.

Victorian riders will also fly the local flag over the weekend, with Merrijig’s Will Purcell, Warnambool’s Anthony Ryan, Docker’s Bryden Atkins and Swan Hill’s Will Watson all gunning for a win on state-turf.

Proudly supported by Visit Victoria, the Wodonga Invitational too will attract the best bulls in the sport, with top ranked bulls from NSW confirmed for competition. These include TnR’s ‘Sweet Pro’s Call Me Joe’, Maynes Bucking Bulls’ ‘Sweet Pro’s Hillbilly Deluxe’ and George Hempenstall’s ‘Ray Ban’, which scored the highest overall points at the PBR Australia Finals in 2017.

Local crowds will also be some of the first in the world to experience a purpose-built 3,500-capacity mobile stadium that has been in development since 2010.

The stadium features a custom-built mega screen to take the audience behind-the-scenes – inside the bucking chutes – and to give slow motion replays for each ride.

It will also provide a rock concert backdrop, with Australian country music star Casey Barnes headlining a massive after-party event with all the bells and whistles of a full theatrical production.

This article archived 5 Jun 2018

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