By HARRY CLARKE
A BREAKTHROUGH bull riding champion is $75,000 richer after claiming the Australian Professional Bull Riders (PBR) national title, only months after his younger brother caused an upset to win the country’s most prestigious rodeo buckle at Mount Isa.
Calliope cowboy Macaulie Leather blitzed a field of Australia’s toughest rough stock riders to be crowned PBR Australian Monster Energy Champion for 2023 following the Monster Energy Grand Final in Townsville over the weekend.
With a sell out crowd of 10,000-plus and a record total prize pool of $240,000, PBR Australia general manager Glen Young said this year’s grand final was “bigger and better than ever before”.
Leather had held a stable lead on the PBR ladder for months leading up to the event and secured his series victory by riding two out of five bulls in Townsville.
In doing so, the 22-year-old took home a $75,000 championship bonus cheque and brought his total PBR prize money for the year to $170,000.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” said Leather after taking out the title.
“It’s been a good year and it’s just good to build on that and try and make next year bigger and better.”
Capping off a big year for the Leather family, which comprises 13 rodeo mad siblings, Macaulie’s young brother, Boston, in August won the coveted open bull ride buckle at the 2023 Mount Isa Mines Rodeo, on debut and mere weeks after being old enough to enter.
“I’m just trying to stay positive and stay healthy and ride bulls,” Macaulie Leather said.
“The main goal is you’ve got to beat the bull. At the end of the day, you beat your bull and everything else comes with it.”
Leather won the overall 2023 series but the ‘event win’ in Townsville went to seasoned Clermont campaigner Brady Fielder, who was the only cowboy to ride four out of five bulls over the grand finals weekend.
Fielder, 23, recently returned from competing in the US, where he joined the Texas Rattlers in a new PBR Teams format which featured some of the world’s top bull riders.
“I’ve learnt a lot along the way while riding over there and you know – just comfortable in myself with every ride I make, just makes it a lot easier,” Fielder said.
“I set quite a few goals at the start of the season along the way and I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved this year.”
Zane Hall (Athol, Queensland) was named the 2023 Rookie of the Year and took home a $15,000 bonus for his efforts.
Taking out the 2023 YETI Bull of the Year was Cattle King Boogers Beach (Dittmann Bucking Bulls), who overtook Roid Rage (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) who was in the No.1 spot heading into the Grand Finals.
Jason Dittmann also won 2023 Contractor of the Year, while Dittmann Bucking Bulls and TNR Bucking Bulls tied for the YETI Bull Team of the Event.
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Zane Hall, from Athol in Queensland, took home a $15,000 bonus for winning 2023 Rookie of the Year.
2023 YETI Bull of the Year went Cattle King Boogers Beach (Dittmann Bucking Bulls), overtaking Roid Rage (Dittmann Bucking Bulls) who was in the ladder leader heading grand finals.
Jason Dittmann also took out the 2023 Contractor of the Year.
“It was an incredible weekend of adrenaline-fuelled action,” Glen Young (pictured) said.
“The performances from both the riders and bovine athletes were incredible, and it certainly had the crowd on the edge of their seats.
“This year’s prize pool was the largest we’ve ever had for the PBR Australia Grand Finals, marking a new record for the sport here in Australia.
“We love hosting the PBR Australia Monster Energy Grand Finals here in Townsville and we’re looking forward to bringing it back again next year and seeing what the new season brings.”