THE Professional Bull Riders Australia showcase event at the Mount Isa Show this weekend will be the equivalent of "an athlete's final hit-out before the Olympic Games" for the riders, according to PBR Australia's general manager.
The two-day bull ride at Kalkadoon Arena is the last chance for riders to qualify for the Australian Cup series series and Glen Young said the fierce competition would ensure spectators would witness a show to remember.
"A lot of guys have a lot laying on the event this weekend," Mr Young said.
"They want to qualify for the Cup series because there's $80,000 up for grabs as well as the chance to move up the world standings."
Bull rider Dave Kennedy, from Kyogle in New South Wales, currently leads the Australian Championship standings with 3855.5 points and will be keen to ride consistently in Mount Isa to extend his margin.
Second-placed Lachlan Richardson (2808.5 points) and Chris Lowe (2702 points) trail Kennedy and will be working hard to close the gap when the chutes fly open but Mr Young said points would be the last thing on the mind of the riders.
"They won't be focused on that [the points] during the event; they'll be focused on getting the bulls ridden," he said.
"You can't go into an event trying to beat the guy in front of you; if you do, that's when you come unstuck."
40 of the country's best bull riders will be vying for the $10,000 in prizemoney available at Kalkadoon Arena this weekend and will pit themselves against some of the toughest, most terrifying bulls ever bred in Australia, guaranteeing edge-of-your-seat viewing for all in attendance.
The format of the competition means that a winner can't be determined until the last bull and rider have charged out of the chute tomorrow night and Mr Young said that was part of the event's appeal to spectators.
"It is all about matching the best riders against the absolute toughest bulls," he said.
"That format creates a level playing field and some very exciting moments that will keep the audience glued to their seats until the very end."
While most people know a rider needs to stay on the bull for eight seconds to score points, a spokeswoman for PBR Australia said the rider's performance only counted towards half of the points.
"The riders only make up fifty per cent of the event," she said.
"The other fifty per cent is up to the bulls; if they buck well they will score well."
Mr Young said while the athletic ability and skill of the riders was paramount like as it was with other professional sportspeople, the addition of the bull meant the element of fear needed to be overcome.
"It's a really psychological sport and the riders have to overcome the element of fear," he said.
"The riders know every bull could be their last."
Round one of the PBR Australia extravaganza begins tonight at 6.30pm.