RODEO UNDER 8 PODDY RIDING: Mav Everingham. Jann Houley

First round of 2019 Top and Young Guns gains record numbers

RODEO: The first round of the newly combined Young Guns and Top Guns 2019 series kicked off on the weekend, with more than 1000 spectators turning out to enjoy all the thrills and spills.

There were record entry numbers, with over 20 nominations.

"It was a great night had by all,” Great Western Hotel manager Dennis Cox said.

"It was great to see the return of the barrel racing.

"A highlight was the working dogs entertainment. The bull riding was also popular but there were no scores in the Open Bull ride.”

Taking out first place in the Open Barrel was Ashleigh Raynor, who beat runner-up Karly Morgan by a "very close” 0.08 seconds.

In the Rocky's Own Transport Rookie Bull Ride, Jackson Gray nabbed first place - at 77 points - from last year's Youth Bull Riders World Champion Macaulie Leather who scored 72.

"Jackson was a stand-out in the Rookie Bull. There was a terrific effort there,” Cox said.

"Macaulie was great but was just beaten. He had a good ride though and stayed on board.

"He has a fantastic family and so many within bull riding, which is great for the sport.”

In the Rookie Barrel Race, Keeley Sibson came first with 14.101 seconds, followed by Samantha Locock with 14.353 and Payten Sibson with 14.445.

Logan Beak took first place with 69 points in the Under-19 Bull Riding and Brock Ivey second with 65.

In the Under-15 Junior Bull, Clayton Carlson came first with 71 points, followed by Jake Winston with 66 and Cody Hopkins in third place on 62.

Heath Bayles and Cooper Snowden placed in the Under-13 Senior Riding, scoring 69 and 63 points respectively.

After a successful first round, Cox expected round two on March 23 to be another great night.

"It's the breeding ground for future champions,” he said.

"We've had top riders come from Rocky and go on to junior world titles and represent in the PBR as well.

"It's great to see these young riders starting their career.”