Up and coming South East Queensland barrel racing star Cheyenne Whitwell is set to take on Australia’s best rodeo stars at the professional sport’s national final on the Gold Coast in June.
After a gruelling but successful year on the rodeo circuit, Ms Whitwell has qualified for the Jupiters Gold Coast National Finals Rodeo, which is set to be held on the Gold Coast over four days from Thursday, June 14, 2012.
Australian Professional Rodeo Association standings revealed the 16-year-old, who was the runner up in the Junior All Around Champion, has shown the older riders a thing or two and has qualified in 13th spot nationally to compete for the national barrel racing title.
She will compete against the likes of three-time Australian Barrel Racing Champion Teneille Clifford.
Ms Clifford, from the northern NSW town of Gunnedah, will enter the National Finals as a crowd favourite but only finished the season marginally ahead of Ms Whitwell in 10th place.
APRA general manager Steve Hilton said the competition at the Jupiters Gold Coast National Finals Rodeo was restricted to 15 qualifiers in each of the six events, which include saddle and bareback bronc riding, bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling and roping.
“This year the National Finals Rodeo will have five rounds spread with prize money being awarded after each round,’’ said Mr Hilton.
“The competitor in each event with the most prize money at the end of the four days will be crowned as the national champion.”
Hilton said both Ms Whitwell and Ms Clifford stood a strong chance of taking out the national title but they would be competing against the nation’s best.
“Simply qualifying for the Jupiter’s Gold Coast National Finals Rodeo is a big achievement in itself,’’ said Mr Hilton.
“Each year thousands of rodeo competitors travel thousands of kilometres to compete across the nation in more than 100 events in the hope of getting to the National Finals Rodeo.
“A lot of blood, sweat and sometimes tears go into a year on the rodeo circuit and it all leads to the Gold Coast.
“Now that they have both qualified, anything could happen at the finals in June.”
Mr Hilton said he expected both would be well supported at the National Finals Rodeo.
“I know the Gold Coast is a couple of hours drive from Cheyenne’s home at Mt Tarampa, west of Brisbane and Teneille’s home in Gunnadah but our rodeo fans are very dedicated and I expect a good contingent of their supporters to head to the Gold Coast to cheer them on.
“In fact I would strongly encourage each and every one of our fans to come along and see what all the excitement of the national finals is all about.
“The Gold Coast knows how to host big events and the Jupiters National Finals Rodeo is certainly one of the city’s major events on its annual calendar.
“We like to say that it’s the week that the Cowboys come to town.”