NEWCASTLE, Australia - After winning the Brendon Clark Invitational, Lachlan Richardson was the talk of the town.
Making it all the more special is that competing in Newcastle, Australia, is something of a hometown event for the 19-year-old Aussie, who was born and raised an hour away in the small ranching community of Cresford.
It was the first of three Australian Cup events. The series continues Saturday in Brisbane and concludes a week from Saturday with the Australian Finals in Sydney. The win moved Richardson into second place behind David Kennedy in the overall series standings.
The attention Richardson has garnered, however, is nothing new.
Earlier this year, the newcomer made his celebrated debut on the Built Ford Tough Series by winning his first-ever event in Uncasville, Conn., where he was the lone rider to go 4-for-4 at the Mohegan Sun Invitational.
"It just goes back to normal and you have to keep trying to step up again," Richardson said.
With what has become Richardson's trademark Beatle-esque mop of shaggy hair, he's been called, "the Justin Bieber of bull riding," namely by broadcaster Craig Hummer.
In the days and weeks that immediately followed his win, fans and observers wondered who exactly the shy, soft-spoken kid was.
He traveled to Connecticut with Caleb Sanderson and Matt Bohan, who he "slightly knew," and admitted he was nervous and unsure of what to expect. He clearly had no idea what it would be like afterward. When he arrived in Uncasville, no one even knew exactly how to say his name - for the record, it's pronounced "lock-lynn" - and by the next week in Billings, Mont., he was shadowing Kody Lostroh, and taking part in media training.
"I didn't know what to think after that first event," said Richardson, whose answers are often direct and to the point, if not guarded.
Richardson is one of seven kids.
He has two older brothers - Tim and Cliff - along with two younger sisters and two younger brothers - all ranging in age from 21 to one.
Cresford (population 200) is a farming community three hours from Sydney, and in recent years, a lot of city folks have been buying property nearby as a place to get away on the weekends from the hustle-and-bustle of the big city.
Richardson called them "city farmers," and said the area is becoming wealthier than it was when previous generations, including his parents and grandparents, grew up in the region.
However, there are still plenty of family farmers, including the Richardson family, who own 8,000 acres and lease another neighboring 8,000 acres. They regularly run 2,000 steers, cows and calves. His father also owns 12 semi-trailer trucks that he leases out to haul cattle throughout Australia.
Tim, 21, rides bareback horses and Cliff, 20, competes in bareback and bull riding.
"Before I can even remember, mom and dad said I always used to ask if I could go to local rodeos," recalled Lachlan, who said the three oldest siblings all started together. "I didn't do much good at it, but we just kept progressing."
Within a few years, he advanced to junior bulls.
Richardson eventually turned pro and immediately focused on competing at PBR Australia events.
A year later, he made the decision to come to the U.S. and compete at Touring Pro Division events. His brother Cliff, who has battled through a few injuries, eventually hopes to join him in Texas, where he's staying in Weatherford with Jared Farley.
"Before I can even remember, mom and dad said I always used to ask if I could go to local rodeos."
He said ever since he started riding, he's set out to win a PBR world title in Las Vegas.
"(The PBR) has good bulls and you're competing against the best in the world," Richardson said. "If you do good, it means a lot."
For the next couple weeks he's back home in Australia with the goal of winning the Australian title.
He's currently ranked 32nd in the world standings, and has two more BFTS events to ride his way into the Top 25, before the second-to-last cut of the season. He's No. 19 in the qualifier standings and all but assured of competing at the World Finals, which sets him up to start the 2013 season on the BFTS.
A national title would guarantee him a spot in Las Vegas.
As nice as it would be to win a $1 million bonus, he added, "It's not all about the money. It's good to be here with the top bull riders and competing against World Champions."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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