NICHOLE Fitzpatrick has maintained her grip on a second-straight ABCRA All Round Cowgirl crown despite struggling to make an impact at last Sunday’s Bungendore Rodeo.
Riding in front of a large contingent of family and friends, the former Queanbeyan High student could only manage a third-place finish in the steer undecorating and fourth in the barrel racing at her ‘hometown’ rodeo.
The 28-year-old was also unable to register a time in the breakaway roping but the results are unlikely to significantly affect Fitzpatrick’s title defence.
“I had a pretty comfortable lead in the all round already so I don’t think it’ll really make much difference,” Fitzpatrick said. “The only person who is close in the steer undecorating [standings] didn’t place so I’m not too worried about it.”
But while Fitzpatrick’s hold on the all round competition remains intact, her hopes of claiming a first ever individual barrel racing title suffered a blow after falling further behind reigning Australian champion Bianca Hertel.
‘Bianca was pretty quick but I was really happy with how I went actually,” Fitzpatrick said.
“The horse I was riding, that was his first run back since he had a bad fall back in April but he’s definitely capable so we’ll see what happens. There are still four rodeos to go and the difference between us is [in the standings] is basically nothing.”
There was a record crowd on hand to cheer on Fitzpatrick’s efforts with organisers estimating more than 2500 spectators turned out in perfect weather for the 51st running of the event.
In total, 270 competitors took part in 17 events with the saddlebronc and bullriding as always producing a majority of the thrills and spills to keep the large crowd entertained.
The rodeo serves as a major charity fundraiser for the St Mary’s and St Philip’s churches with last year’s event raising about $24,000 for the two local institutions.