5 February, 2024
Far North’s best cowboys bring home national titles
SOME of the north’s toughest cowboys faced off with some of the rankest bulls in the national ABCRA circuit last week, with fan favourite cowboy Braydon Wellby coming home as Australian Bull Riding Champion for 2023.
The Giru cowboy’s name has been echoed across the rodeo circuit for the past 12 months after the PBR rider took home the win at almost every ride he competed in last year.
Heading into the National Finals, Wellby wasn’t expecting to do so well.
“I didn’t think I was in for a shot at the Australian title, so I wasn’t really worried about it – I was just going in there for the average,” he said.
“It all just went on, and I didn’t think I had a chance until the last bull of the ride when they called out my name over the loudspeaker, announcing I had won.”
Starting off a little shaky, Wellby bucked off during the first round but was ready to stare down his second opponent.
Round two was his best round, seeking revenge from “Backhanded Panda”, who he bucked off only two weeks beforehand.
“I sort of knew what I was in for. When I saw my name beside his, I thought, 'We’ll get one back at him’,” he said.
“I rode him for about 84 and a half points.”
Wellby said he was proud to have such a supportive rodeo community across Far North Queensland behind him every step of the way.
While he doesn’t have set plans yet, he said he was keen to be back in the circuit competing in the sport he loves most.
“I’m not sure where I want to go with it yet, but I am definitely keen to get back into it – just going to take it one bull at a time, really,” he said.
“I’ll definitely be hanging around North Queensland and doing a few shows up here but I am thinking of travelling around Australia a bit more, maybe do a few PBRs.”
For Mareeba cowboy Josh Snell, competing at such a high level was a dream come true.
The junior cowboy took home second in the steer ride and third overall in the mini bulls, an achievement he didn’t expect from himself.
“The rides went good, the stock was decent, and I did better than I expected of myself,” he said.
“Riding in the undercover arena was exciting because we don’t have that up here. I was not really nervous this time around because I had been there before.”
“On day one, I took home first place in both mini and steer; on day two, I placed in my steer, not my mini. He wasn’t much of a bucker; on day three, tied placing with both mini and steer.
“After the three days in the national standing, I finished second in steers and third in the minis.”
Looking back on the event, Snell said he was proud of his achievements and was looking forward to a new year of new opportunities.
“I’m feeling good and looking forward to a new challenge for the year as I will be in junior bulls,” he said.
Biboohra’s Joel Jaszczyszyn said competing in a large stadium in front of thousands of people was “very cool, " and coming home second for the mini bulls was even cooler.
He said he rode better than he thought he would, giving him more confidence as he steps up an age group this year.
“When I first went into the arena, I couldn't believe how big it was. The big screens in the middle of the arena are very cool,” he said.
“I was nervous, but after my first ride, I was excited for the rest.
“I was one of only three cowboys to ride all three of my mini bulls, which put me in third place in the average for the finals. I rode two of my three steers and placed fourth in one of my steer rounds. As I was aiming just to ride time - I'm very happy.”
The first rodeo in the North Queensland circuit will be Easter at Einsliegh on Friday 29 March.