A new record was set at the 66th Narrandera Rodeo on the weekend.
Brad Pierce scored a record breaking 93 points on Gary McPhee’s six time bucking horse of the year, Cheyenne Top Girl.
The previous Australian record was set by Bruce O’Dell on Garry McPhee’s QT at the Heathcote Rodeo in 2006, and was equalled by Cody Angland on John Gill’s Paper Rock at the Myrtleford Lions Golden Spurs Rodeo in 2010.
Cheyenne Top Girl was Saddle Bronc of the Year in 2009, 2010, 2011-12, 2015 and 2016.
While rodeo announcer Terry Murray initially declared Mr Pierce’s score to be a record equal score, the results were updated in the ring as a new APRA record.
“It was one of our best rodeos,” said Narrandera Rodeo Committee president Ron Absolom.
“We had a record-breaking crowd last year, and the crowd this year was about the same – and I think the weather might have frightened a few of them off.”
There were storms predicted for Saturday night, and the sky certainly looked omi-nous enough. However, de-spite winds and a light scattering of rain, the evening stayed dry and clear for the rodeo.
“I had people ringing from all around, asking me if we were still running the rodeo that night – people from Wagga and Coolamon and Leeton,” Mr Absolom said.
“But it was a great night. All things considered it was a great rodeo.”
A blackout in the second half of the evening was a greater cause for concern than the weather, it turned out.
“We couldn’t find the trouble, in the end. It might have overheated.”
The Narrandera Rodeo is one of the longest running professional rodeos in Australia, and its reputation as a very high-paying rodeo – with an estimated pool of $40,000 – means it draws competitors from across the country.
Australian Professional Rodeo Association rankings are determined by the amount of prize money won in competition. Narrandera’s high prize money, with first place prizes awarding $1700 for many categories, means that successful competitors have a better chance of boosting their rankings with a win or a place at Narrandera.
The rodeo grounds have recently acquired and installed new lighting, which was much cause for comment.
“The bloke who travels round all the rodeos, Dave Ethell, said the difference in the photos he took last year compared to this year was unbelievable.”
The Narrandera Rodeo brings competitors and spectators from across Australia, with a large number of competitors coming down from Queensland.
“They call it the Southern Circuit; it starts just before Christmas. The Queenslanders come south during their wet season, and then when the wet season is over, the southerners go up for
their big rodeos – Mt Isa and Cloncurry,” Mr Absolom said.
The drive and energy of the competitors can’t be understated, with many travelling interstate in order to compete in two rodeos in the one day.
Many of the steer-wrestling and breakaway roping competitors had already competed in the Oberon Rodeo earlier on Saturday. These competitors then turned around and made the five-hour drive to Narrandera in order to compete there. It’s a massive day, with the Narrandera Rodeo not finishing up until 11.30pm that night.
Many of the bull-riders, saddle-bronc riders and bareback-bronc riders also made the decision to fly to Whittlesea, Victoria overnight on Saturday. After competing in the Narrandera Rodeo, these competitors were planning to do it all again the very next day.
The success of the Narrandera Rodeo is the work of many hands, from the Narrandera Rodeo Committee, who work tirelessly year round to make the rodeo work seamlessly, to the APRA personnel and judges who travel down to offer their services.
A special mention must be made to Mr McPhee, who provides the bucking stock for rodeos across Australia.
Mr McPhee’s rodeo stock are some of the highest awarded in Australia, with 25 bucking horse of the year titles, 33 bareback bronc titles and 13 bull titles, many of them won by the bull Chainsaw, according to Mr Murray’s running commentary during the evening. Despite retiring in 1995, Chainsaw still remains a legend among rodeo circuits to this day.