Woodard makes finals
AS THE youngest rider in this month's Professional Bull Riding (PBR) Grand Finals in Townsville, Dingo cowboy Bailey Woodard is doing his best to keep a firm grip on his excitement levels ahead of the big weekend.
Woodard, a 19-year-old bull rider who is sitting in the 11th spot in the PBR Australia National Standings, said this week he was experiencing a mixture of excitement and nerves over qualifying for the nation's biggest PBR event of the year - a battle that will decide the National Champion and Stock Contractor of the Year titles.
"I'm trying not to think about it too much,” he said.
"I might scare myself out of it!
"Last year was the first time I made the PBR finals in my rookie year.
"It was good last year, and now I know what to expect this year.
"I'm just trying to do as well as I can.”
After an impressive year of performances on the 2018 PBR Australia Tour, Woodard made the top-18 Australian rider cut-off to qualify for the prestigious event, which will run at Townsville Entertainment Centre over two nights on November 23 and 24.
Woodard will be competing against Australia's top riders, as well as four international competitors, with $50,000 in total prize money to be split between the 22 riders for the Grand Finals.
Having secured rankings points from his performances and results at other PBRs Australia- accredited tour events throughout the year, Bailey said he believed the biggest challenge now was to remain level-headed.
"I think most of it is mental and just keeping it all level-headed.”
When riding, he said, "You can't look at it as a final.
"You've just got to keep a level head and hang on.
"I try and keep a clear head and then on the day just let it happen.
"I try and do my thinking during the week and keep it all positive.”
Over the weekend, Woodard will ride at least four times, with two rides per rider on both nights and the top eight progressing to the championship round.
"It should be big town in Townsville this year, and it's always a good atmosphere in Townsville.
"I've really been riding my whole life. But since I turned 18 I've been taking it more seriously and there's more money involved.”
Bailey said he believed bull riding was "definitely” a growing sport, as well as a popular spectator sport.
"I think there's a fair bit of action involved and just knowing the risk involved can have you on the edge of your seat.
"It keeps people intrigued - anything can happen really.”
Also riding will be fellow Queenslanders Aaron Kleier from Clermont, brothers Mitchell and Justin Paton from Nebo and Ryan Storey from Mackay, as well as Cliff Richardson from NSW, 2015 PBR Australia Champion Fraser Babbington and 2016 PBR Australian title holder Cody Heffernan.
International riders confirmed include former Brazilian number two Lucas Divino, and fellow Brazilian riders Junior Quaresima and Rubens Barbosa.
Once the Grand Finals are completed, the 2018 PBR Australia season will have paid out $1.27 million in prize money across 36 events.
Tickets are on sale for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Monster Energy Tour Grand Finals in Townsville at www.TECC.net.au