PBR: Wilkinson back to defend his title
ANY WIN is a good win, but for professional bull rider Troy Wilkinson, a win at Grafton tonight would be better than most.
He will gear up to defend his local title after winning the inaugural event last year, and ride for his last shot at the Rural Weekly Live Series championsihip.
While this season started off slower for Wilkinson, he is clearly making the most of improved form; the last three PBR events have seen him nab two firsts and a fourth.
His most recent win, at Hervey Bay last weekend, came at a cost, however, with his last ride ending in him being trampled.
"I was riding my bull and something went wrong where I half came off him," he said.
"When I landed on the ground I must have just landed under his feet. It knocked the wind out of me and took a bit to get me breath back. It's a little bit sore still but nothing Deep Heat won't fix. I'm pretty confident coming off a good few weeks, so hopefully I can hang on (tonight)."
Even if he does, it will have to be the ride of Wilkinson's life to catch up with the current Rural Weekly Live Series leader Cody Heffernan.
"It's a bit hard to catch Cody at the top but if I do well this weekend hopefully I can still win it," he said. "Even if I get second or third it will still be a bit of a bonus."
Of his stellar performance at Grafton last year, he said it just all came together.
"It was extraordinary actually, the crowd was huge ... hopefully the crowd will show up this year too."
Wilkinson said the crowd could make a big difference to the way the athletes rode, so Grafton, be prepared to make some noise.
"The more they cheer, as long as they're having fun, we have fun," he said.
"It creates a great atmosphere too."
Hometown: Upper Horton, NSW
Pro for: 7 years
Fun facts: Wilkinson made his first ride as a young boy on a couple of sheep in the shearing shed. He qualified for his first PBR Australia National Finals at just 18 years old.
Gates open for the PBR Grafton at Grafton Showground at 5pm with the first of the bucking bulls set to rock'n'roll from the chutes at 7pm.
There are still plenty of general admission tickets available. General admission is $35 for adults and $20 for children, or $90 for a family of four (two adults, two children). Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ruralweekly.com.au/ liveseries or the gate.
Reserved ringside and grandstand seating are completely sold out and will not be sold at the gate.