CAIRNS, Australia – One area that Team Australia may have an advantage at ahead of the June 9-10 Sydney Global Cup, outside of having seven more riders on their team than the invading countries, is momentum.
All of Team Australia, excluding the injured Bradie Gray, is entered in this Saturday’s PBR Australia Monster Energy Cairns Invitational, and the Australians will be able to get on multiple bulls ahead of the battle set for Qudos Bank Arena a week later.
Team Australia coach Troy Dunn isn’t waiting any longer, though, when it comes to getting the hottest riders in Australia added to his squad.
Dunn announced on Thursday that he has added Jason Mara to his 14-man roster that will defend its nation’s colors in Sydney.
“I don’t know of any other greater honor to represent your country in the bull riding world other than to make the World Finals, so this Global Cup event allows us to do it alongside fellow Aussie’s makes it much better,” Mara said.
Fans can watch the Global Cup exclusively on RidePass beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET on June 9.
Mara has won the last two PBR Australia events to rocket up to No. 58 in the world standings. The 31-year-old first won the Mt. Cotton Invitational on May 6 before putting together another 2-for-2 performance in Rockhampton, Queensland, for a second victory five days later.
In fact, Mara’s 89-point winning ride on Acid Rain in Mt. Cotton was the third-highest ride of his 12-year career.
He is seventh in the PBR Australia standings.
“I’ve been having a pretty quiet year with a few nagging injuries and other commitments keeping me out of form,” Mara said. “But once I got on top of that, I got back to riding my bulls and found some form at the right time I guess you could say.”
Mara will be competing alongside six-time PBR World Finals qualifier Lachlan Richardson, PBR Australia leader Aaron Kleier, 2017 PBR Australia champion Troy Wilkinson, 2016 PBR Australia champion Cody Heffernan, 2015 PBR Australia champion Fraser Babbington, No. 27 Nathan Burtenshaw, No. 51 Cliff Richardson, No. 43 Justin Paton, No. 71 Bailey Woodard, No. 95 Budd Williamson, No. 113 Ethan Watts and No. 207 Bradie Gray on the team.
There is only one roster spot, as well as one alternate position, remaining, which will likely be announced following the conclusion of the Cairns Invitational on Saturday night.
Mara is 5-for-14 (35.71 percent) this season, and he is 71-for-190 (37.37 percent) in his PBR career.
However, Mara has also had success in the Australian Pro Rodeo Association.
“I do rodeo when we don’t have PBR events on,” Mara added. “I only won (some) big events and had some close calls to getting them buckles, but not close enough.”
According to Mara, he finished runner-up at the APRA Finals once and has competed at the rodeo organization’s finale six or seven times.
Mara’s brother, Troy, won the 2010 APRA bull riding championship.
Jason grew up in Cloncurry, Queensland, and he eventually fell in love with the sport of bull riding despite his parents’ wishes.
He climbed aboard his first steer at 5 years old and later went on to win amateur championships in 2001 and 2002.
“My mum and dad weren’t fans on me taking the sport seriously at first, but they are country people and since us kids grew up on cattle properties and in country towns, it’s no surprise my brother won an APRA title and other family members are involved in the sport one way or another.”
Jason did make an attempt at competing in the United States earlier in his career – going 1-for-19 at non-premier series events – and he last nodded his head in the U.S. four years ago.
“I loved competing in the U.S. and would have never left if injuries and other commitments back home got me tired up a little and took my focus away a little bit.”
While that elusive gold buckle in the U.S. never became his, he is focused on helping Team Australia defend its nation’s soil in Sydney.
Mara also wouldn’t mind winning the individual Global Cup aggregate title for a nice bonus and personal achievement.
“If we can just concentrate on covering all our bulls, we will be in it for sure,” Mara concluded. “We are already a tight bunch as a team. We know each other pretty well, and know we are there for the Aussie pride, but personal performance still prevails at the end.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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