US riches rope in Rocky duo
By RACHAEL BORICH
ROCKHAMPTON rodeo team roping competitors Tony Lillyman and Brenden Kenny have a big cash prize in their sights in the US.
The pair left Rockhampton last week to compete in the US national finals for team roping in Oklahoma City.
Winning the top prize would earn each rider about $US50,000. The catch is, they have to join 400 teams for their shot at the big dollars.
Trying to beat all these teams against the clock is just half the battle.
Lillyman and Kenny have to rely on their riding skills as they mount borrowed horses.
"Sometimes you climb on five minutes before you go out ? that's the tricky part,'' Lillyman said.
"I've been riding all my life so it comes down to if you can or can't ride.''
However, Lillyman admits their rides are pretty good horses. "It blows you away over there,'' said Lillyman, who has made regular trips to the US over the years, starting in his early 20s in 1984 when he lived at Richmond, North Queensland.
"You're in awe of how many people do it over there.''
And Lillyman is also well aware of that Australian competitive spirit.
"We (Australians) can compete in any event in the world if we put our minds to it ? Aussies are known for that.''
The Rockhampton pair have a big week ahead.
It was during their last visit to the US during May that the pair qualified for the finals and won a new saddle each.
This time around they start with preliminary roping events, which are open to everyone, and then line up in the finals later in the week.
Lillyman is staying only for two weeks this time around while Kenny is chasing a few more events during his extended stay.
The US national finals started yesterday and run through to Sunday.