SHANE WRAPS UP ALL AROUND TITLE
RODEO: Shane Iker has scored the perfect birthday present at The Carlton Dry Warwick Rodeo National Finals.
The Alton Downs cowboy won the Australian Professional Rodeo Association's all around title, as well as the team roping header title.
It was sweet reward for the hard-working seasoned campaigner, who celebrated his 39th birthday on the eve of the four-day competition which wrapped up at the weekend.
This is Iker's third all around title, having previously won it in 2008 and 2014.
"I probably had to work a bit harder for this one, I'm getting a bit older these days,” Iker said on his return.
"I was sitting in sixth (in the all around) heading into the finals but I didn't go to Warwick with high hopes by any means.
"I just thought I would go and give it my best and see how it panned out.”
It panned out perfectly for Iker.
He joined with Charters Towers rider Liam Davison to record a win, a second and a third in the team roping to finish second in the average and also finished with a second and third in the rope and tie.
Iker then went on to score a narrow win over New South Wales rider Heath Litchfield to win the team roping header title.
"I've been practising for weeks and weeks to get where I am. It's a hard one to win down there, it's really hard,” Iker said of his Warwick success.
"Winning the all around is always the pinnacle; it's the one everyone wants. I think it would rate pretty highly in any cowboy's books.”
Iker picked up about $5000 in prize money as well as two trophy saddles and two buckles to add to the impressive collection of prizes he has amassed over the course of his rodeo career.
He recalls how he started in the sport when he was about 14, competing in the junior barrel racing and the rope and tie.
"My sisters Tammy and Shelley were good at barrel racing and I just started tagging along,” he said.
"I still remember the first Australian title I won - the calf roping in Toowoomba in 2001.”
Iker admits that success in rodeo requires 100% commitment and dedication but he's more than happy to give it.
"I'm addicted to it,” he said. "It's very demanding and it's a very busy lifestyle but I love it. I wouldn't give it up for anything.”
Iker is quick to acknowledge the incredible support and understanding of his family, especially wife Jorja.
He identifies his greatest competitive strength as his determination.
"I just keep trying. I've got good mental power to just keep coming,” he said.
"I also do enormous amounts of practice and I ride some pretty good horses which is a big thing as well. The three special fellas I've got mean a lot to me. People would say I spoil them but they do their job and they're a real asset.”
Iker will spend some time at home before saddling up for the Christmas Run in Victoria.
He accepts that his rodeo career is entering its twilight years but he is still hungry for more success and wants to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.
"I'm definitely on the downhill in my career and every title from now on really is a bonus,” he said.
"But I like to think I can still mix it with them - I'm not that buggered yet.”