PBR: It has been nearly three years, a massive 40 shows over three countries since Jason Mara last won a PBR buckle.
His penultimate win came at the New Years Eve Rodeo in Charters Towers in 2014, so naturally, as he accepted his buckle following his win at the Toowoomba All Star Challenge on Saturday night he felt relief more than anything.
He held off celebrations to drive through the night to be home on Sunday. He arrived home at 5am, battered and bruised but with the knowledge that the job was done.
"It feels like the monkey is off the back a bit,” Mara said yesterday.
"I have been injured a lot and haven't had much luck. Haven't made it count when I should. So it was great to ride the bulls.”
Mara's 86 point ride on Ugly Kid Joe was his best of the evening but the more satisfying ride came when he conquered Rock Star.
"He has been a really good old bull for a long time. He threw me off in Rockhampton so it felt good to get one over him,” the Cloncurry Pocket Rocket said.
"It was just great to get some bulls rode. They were good bulls too, it was wide open.
"The Brazilian Cristiano Cunha and Cody Heffernan both got bucked off. While you want to see them do well, I guess it's nice to finish in front.
"Making the finals is always the goal, and to get as many buckles as I can.
"I haven't made the top 10 in a while. I missed out last year and got a bit of a wake up call. I needed to do something dramatic and I have.”
His first ever ride as a four-year-old didn't go down well but thankfully he progressed and stuck with it.
He will take all his experience into this weekend's Gladstone PBR.
"The poddy threw me off pretty quick and I ended up with a blood nose,” he laughed.
"As a kid, I always said I was going to be a professional bull rider, before I even knew I could do it as a living. When we moved I continued on with the sport.
"Really looking forward to Gladstone. This time I don't have to drive all night home. I can enjoy it.”