WILLOW TREE cowgirl Nichole Fitzpatrick has fine-tuned her form for this week’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in the Queensland State Equestrian Centre at Caboolture.
After winning the pro tour all around cowgirl title in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association, Fitzpatrick is one of the favourites for the NFR beginning Thursday.
She was second in barrel racing standings and sixth in breakaway roping after finishing the season with three wins in Victoria at Easter.
Fitzpatrick won the barrel racing and breakaway roping double at the Great Western Rodeo in Victoria on Good Friday and capped a successful weekend with a breakaway roping win at Lang Lang on Easter Monday.
Going into the Easter weekend, she was certain of National Finals Rodeo qualification in the barrel race but needed some Easter prize money to make sure of a top-15 spot and qualification for the finals.
Fitzpatrick and Moree rider Wendy Caban were two of many northern New South Wales riders who were on the road at Easter to either four rodeos in Victoria or three rodeos in Queensland.
At Lang Lang in Victoria, Fitzpatrick won the breakaway roping in a time of 2.05 seconds from Caban who was clocked at 2.1.
Caban was third in the barrel race at Lang Lang.
Tamworth cowboy Blake Hallam was placed in his three events at the Easter Saturday Rodeo at Emerald in Queensland.
He won the rope and tie, joined with Duri rider Jeff Miller to finish fourth in team roping and was fifth in steer wrestling.
Northern New South Wales saddle bronc riders Ben O’Reilly (Gunnedah) and Anthony Caldwell (Blandford) were equal second at Emerald behind winner Rhys Angland, of Wantabadgery, New South Wales.
Duri rider Shellie Miller was fifth in the barrel race at Emerald.
The major winner at the Easter rodeos was Maldon, Victoria, rider Toby Collins who won seven events in four rodeos in Victoria.
He won the saddle bronc, bull ride and bareback bronc ride treble on Easter Saturday at Omea after starting the weekend with a saddle bronc and bull ride double at Great Western on Friday.
Just to prove his claims as the best saddle bronc rider in Australia, Collins won the saddle bronc at Buchan on Sunday and capped an outstanding weekend with his fourth saddle bronc win of the weekend at Lang Lang on Monday.
The top 15 in each APRA event have qualified for this week’s National Finals Rodeo, which will be held for the first time in Caboolture’s purpose-built Queensland State Equestrian Centre.