Kiwi bull rider celebrates PBR Rockhampton win with haka
ACCEPTING a dare, trackwork rider and former equestrian champion Fraser Babbington jumped on the back of a bull for the first time.
Fast forward 10 years and the New Zealander, who hails from Gisborne on the North Island, is the country's premier bull rider.
After a dream run, Babbington is the Rural Weekly PBR Live Series leader after three rounds, and on Saturday night he showed a packed Browne Park why.
The 27-year-old rose to the occasion in round three of the series, delivering an 88.5-point ride on Barn Yard to keep the crowd on their feet for the second week running.
Qualifying first after an 86-point effort on Pandemonium, Babbington delivered under pressure, providing fans with the only successful ride in the championship round.
"It was pretty good from the crowd's perspective," said Babbington, who celebrated his win by performing the haka.
"There hadn't been any rides out of the top 10 and I was the last ride of the night and I came up with the goods. I love the pressure - that's what makes me ride a bit better."
Despite following up his round one second-place finish in Innisfail with back-to-back wins in Mackay and Rockhampton, Babbington said he wasn't getting carried away.
Babbington will return to work - and reality - today.
The 27-year-old rides trackwork and breaks horses in at property at Beaudesert, an hour west of the Gold Coast.
Rural Weekly PBR Live Series
Saturday night at Browne Park, Rockhampton
STANDINGS: 1st Fraser Babbington 174.5, 2nd Cliff Richardson 85.5, 3rd Dave Kennedy 85, 4th Roy Dunn and Josh Lock 83.5.
"I've always said win, lose or draw you've got to go back to reality during the week, keep a level week and look forward to next weekend," he said.
"Reality is going back to work. Riding racehorses, ride trackwork and breaking horses in - it helps with riding bulls."
Raised on a station in New Zealand, Babbington ventured to Australia as a 17-year-old to work on a property in the Northern Territory, and tasted bull riding for the first time by chance.
"I come from an equestrian background, that's where I get my horse trade from, and a couple boys at the station dared me to get on a bull," Babbington said.
"So I did it at the Katherine Rodeo and I got third in the bull ride and this guy gave me a heap of gear to get started with.
"He said I should start riding bulls (as) I've got a bit of a natural seat for it and I did that.
"I went home and won three titles in my first year and came back to Aussie and (I want to) try to make it big in America now. That was 10 years ago."
Babbington and his competitors now turn their focus toward the Bundaberg PBR Touring Pro event on October 11.