The very best of the best

AUSTRALIAN Professional Rodeo Association executive board chairman Russell Collins believes hosting the 2015 National Finals Rodeo in Warwick will be a case of combining the best of the best in rodeo and campdrafting.

“The APRA and Warwick Show and Rodeo Society have agreed to host the ‘Warwick Rodeo Australian Championships’ in late October in conjunction with the Warwick Gold Cup campdraft, an internationally acclaimed event,’’ Collins said.

“It will be a real benefit having the Gold Cup and the NFR championship rodeo at the same venue at the same time.’’

The NFR will be contested on October 22-25 in Warwick by the top 15 in all eight APRA events and Collins expects competitors from all states to be among the qualifiers.

Collins said as Warwick was in southern Queensland and close to the New South Wales border, it was very central for the rodeo movement.

“It has an excellent arena. There can be storms in October and the arena stands up well year after year,” Collins said.

“The APRA head office and the Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre are in Warwick and it is opportunistic to have the finals there so it is all under the one umbrella.

“It is a win-win for both the APRA and Warwick Show and Rodeo Society. It has been difficult financially for the APRA to run the finals as a stand-alone event.”

While first-division events at the Warwick Rodeo will be replaced by four rounds of the NFR, Collins said all second-division and novelty events, such as the women’s saddle bronc ride, would be held.

Collins said there would be prizemoney on offer for each of the four rounds of the National Finals Rodeo.

“There will be trophy buckles and trophy saddles for the winners of each of the eight championship titles and the all around for the top cowboy and cowgirl overall,” he said.

“Spectators will see the cream of the crop competing on the best stock available in four rounds. I expect a record crowd for the first day of the National Finals Rodeo on the Thursday night at the Warwick Showgrounds.

“With the top 15 in all events, there will be a higher percentage of completed rides in rough stock events and higher percentage of times in roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing.”

Collins said the agreement to host the NFR at the Warwick Rodeo was for one year.

“If successful and both parties agree, we will carry on with it,” he said.

Four of the cowboys to watch in Warwick in October will be reigning all around champion Shane Iker (Alton Downs, QLD), former world all around rookie bull ride champion Brad Pierce (Tooma, NSW), Victorian timed event star Terry Evison and Shane Kenny, of Emerald (QLD), the most successful title winner in APRA history.

In cowgirl ranks, Cherie O’Donoghue (Lockington, VIC) has the most titles in history but will face a tough battle against Wendy Caban (Moree), Nichole Fitzpatrick (Willow Tree), Jane Fay (Warra, QLD) and Jill Lyons (Rockhampton, QLD).

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