Stacked line-up delights punters as barrel racing returns
BOTH competitors and spectators have descended on Gracemere's CQLX as the region welcomed its first major equine event in several months.
The return of barrel racing over both Saturday and Sunday delivered big on earlier promises of 500-strong field of skilled riders and nailbiting finishes.
It also provided further opportunity for Ridgelands competitor Jema Slotosch to once again prove herself amid the growing pool of talent.
Initially slated to take place in Tamworth, the prestige Australian Barrel Horse Association (ABHA) event instead opted for Central Queensland - delighting eager riders near and far.
"ABHA was really good and put out an event that all of Queensland could come to, and they've put it through all the other states too."
"Competitors have travelled from as far as they can to come here and perform and it's been a really good show. It's been really good to come back to CQLX," Ms Slotosch said.
The final day of competition reportedly hosted over 250 runs across the day while Saturday was believed to have run at least 500 rides.
Despite the impressive line-up, Ms Slotosch felt a lack of consistency in her performances in Divisions 4D and Futurity could likely impact her overall placing.
"Consistency isn't my strong point, I'm just trying to treat it like it's a new day and not to get too ahead of myself, my first mare knocked a drum and the second ran okay."
"It's been a really hard year for everyone trying to keep their horses fit and there's been no comps, but when they put this event on it was really good and made it worthwhile," she said.
Saturday's competition also delivered an exciting field of talent, including youngsters Sidnee Cowan and Rattle Snake Jake who set the fastest round 1 time in the junior section - clocking 15.916.
Hank Nicholls and horse Lori also took out Sunday's Pee Wee Led division with a time of 25.246 seconds.
"Sarah McLaney is one to watch, she bought a really nice lot of horses, they own a stud out at Ridgeland, and she's got some really well bred mares," said Ms Slotosch.
Kayla Matthews and Brooke Reid also proved to be a serious threat among riders.
An increase of spectators had also been recorded despite organisers having only a matter of weeks to pull together the event.
"It's really good to get so much backing from the locals considering everything we've all been through this year."
Ms Slotosch will next go on to compete at three more NBHA events - one a final - before the completion of season in late November.