PUEBLO, Colo. – It may not have been the 2017 debut that Lachlan Richardson wanted, but simply getting to compete at a PBR-sanctioned event this past weekend was another step in the right direction for the star Australian bull rider.
Richardson returned to competition at the Great Western Hotel PBR Australia Touring Pro Division event in Rockhampton, Australia, last weekend. Richardson missed the first six months of the season following surgery to repair a torn bicep in his riding arm that he injured at the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals attempting to ride Torch.
The 24-year-old went 0-for-2 in the Queensland City, as he was bucked off by Austin Powers (7.65 seconds) and Game On (3.23 seconds).
Still, Richardson said this weekend was a good tune-up as he prepares to return to the United States at the end of the month.
“Yeah, felt real good and I nearly rode my bull,” Richardson said.
Richardson plans on competing at various Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour events and Touring Pro Division events before the Built Ford Tough Series resumes on Aug. 12 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Last weekend was six months from surgery,” Richardson said. “I (had) Rockhamption this weekend and then I’m flying back (to the United States) on the 31st for the summer events.”
Richardson hopes to compete at the PBR Canada Major in Quebec City on June 2-3. The winner of the PBR Canada Major will earn 300 points toward the world standings.
The summer run will not be a deal breaker for Richardson, but it can be a huge benefit toward making sure he still qualifies for his sixth consecutive Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Richardson has a guaranteed eight BFTS events for the second-half courtesy of his career-best 16th-place finish in the 2016 world standings.
Still, he can also earn hundreds of points toward the standings this summer at the Velocity and TPD level.
“It is very important,” Richardson said. “I'll be able to do double the events that I could in Australia.”
Chase Outlaw was a facing a similar predicament last year and earned 512.5 points during the summer run before using his BFTS injury exemptions in the second half of the year.
Outlaw went on to finish 14th in the world standings despite missing the entire BFTS first half.
“That's what I thought about when I first got hurt,” Richardson said. “I wasn't mad for long because I was out injured. I was looking at how good I can finish the year off.”
There is a good possibility Richardson could put together a late-season push based on how well he rode last season.
Richardson nearly doubled up his career-best for BFTS qualified rides by going 20-for-85 in 27 events – his previous best was 11 qualified rides in 2013 and ’14.
He also set a career-high with a 23.53-percent riding average, and his 85 attempts and 27 events were also personal bests.
Richardson won his first 15/15 Bucking Battle with an emotional 92.25-point ride on Seven Dust in Thackerville, Oklahoma. He had dedicated the victory to his childhood friend and Australia rodeo star Blake Hallam, who had recently died in a car accident.
He posted eight Top-10 finishes and three Top-5’s.
Richardson had never finished higher than 33rd (2012) in the world standings until last year.
The final draw spot heading into the World Finals last year went to Dakota Buttar with 572.49 world points.
If Richardson fails to crack the Top 35 before the World Finals, he also could attempt to earn a wild card bid to the Finals at the 2017 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals on Oct. 28-30.
This is the first significant injury of Richardson’s career.
“I had only ever had about two weeks off for little injuries before,” he said.
To stay busy, Richardson helped out around his family’s farm in Gresford, Australia, once he was cleared to resume athletic activity.
“Well, I had to start off from not being able to lift anything and I was able to lift more and more, and I have done a fair bit of swimming.”
Richardson got on his first practice bulls last week at former BFTS rider Jared Farley’s house.
“Yeah, it went good,” he said. “I got on three and rode good. Bicep felt good.”
With a couple bulls under his belt, as well as a fully recovered riding arm, Richardson believes he will be nodding his head in Las Vegas inside T-Mobile Arena during the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 1-5.
“I will be at the Finals,” Richardson concluded.
Additional News & Notes
Aaron Kleier won first and second-place in Rockhampton to earn 90 points toward the world standings.
Kleier is now ranked 37th in the world standings and is knocking on the doorstep of the BFTS.
Current BFTS rider Troy Wilkinson placed third in the event. He earned 20 points toward the world standings to move up to 29th in the world.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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