Top Guns: Macaulie Leather.
Top Guns: Macaulie Leather. Allan Reinikka ROK031118atopguns

Great Western boss announces rodeo season line-up

RODEO: As the new year begins to fade into the rear view mirror, the next season of The Great Western Hotel's rodeo line-up is getting ready to kick off.

After the success of Rockin' Rocky on December 29-31, Great Western's manager Denis Cox is looking forward to an action-packed start to the riding calendar.

On January 26 at 7pm, the second Youth Bull Riding World Finals fund raiser will be held.

"We just re-opened on Wednesday... Over the three days we had about 3,000 people,” Cox said.

"It was great to have international acts like Love and Theft and Drew Baldridge. I think it's the first time since 2016 international acts have been to the Western.

"This year we have live bull riding, Young Guns and Top Guns, and other line-ups like John Butler Trio on February 21 (which has sold nearly 1000 tickets already) confirmed and Matt Corby on March 21.

"We've also got the PBR on May 18, Screaming Jets on June 7, Lee Kernaghan on August 24 and a couple of other unconfirmed acts. We're hoping to get Suzi Quatro and Xavier Rudd.”

As well as kicking off the rodeo calendar, the first rodeo of the year in two weeks' time serves another purpose; continuing to put Central Queensland riders on the international stage.

"A hundred per cent of proceeds from January 26 will go towards sending our young Australian riders overseas to compete in Texas later this year,” Cox said.

"There's seven different categories, ranging from Open Bull, Rookie Bull, U1 Bull Riding, U15 Junior Bull, U13 Senior Riding, U11 Junior Riding and U8 Calf Riding.

"There's prize money and the Open Bull is at $2,500 and we put the entry fee costs into the prize money.

"We're hoping for a good turn-out and there's a lot of riders who won trips at the Mow Down series who should be competing as well.

"It's our first big event of 2019 and it should be great.”

After Calliope bull rider Macaulie Leather obtained the world champion status at last year's 11th Annual Youth Bull Riders World Finals in Texas, Cox expects the region to continue to impress at the world capital of bull riding this year.

"The World Finals are the pinnacle of bull riding in the world and others would love to go over and win on the world stage,” Cox said.

"It's something nobody can take away from you and it's inspiring for other riders.

"We have a breeding ground in Central Queensland and some riders go professional, to PBRs or to states.

"We try to help them along the way and teach them about professionalism, handling media and mingling wit guests and doing photographs.

"They are real life cowboys and we are giving them an appreciation of our region and want to send guests away from Rockhampton with only positives things to say.”

What makes CQ riders stand out from the rest? That die-hard Queensland spirit.

"They breed them tough up here,” Cox said.

"They fall and kicked but are straight up again and are passionate about the sport.

"It's just terrific to see them cheer each other on. After a ride they are up on the fence cheering on their mates.

"There's strong camaraderie and they love it.”