In rough stock events, once you hit 30, it’s only a matter of time until your body’s begging you to throw in the towel.
At 32, Young cowboy Ben Thorpe has been feeling the burn, but he won’t surrender yet. Thorpe’s one tournament away from snaring the nation’s most coveted bull-riding prize.
Second in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association standings to five-time champion Jason O’Hearn, Thorpe’s a strong contender at national finals in Warwick on October 27-30.
“Hopefully I can snag a title before my days are numbered,” Thorpe said.
Hopefully I can snag a title before my days are numbered.- Ben Thorpe
“The body clock is ticking, hard. I’ve given myself every chance, got enough points up, even if you qualify as 13th or 14th you’re in the running.”
It has been a prolonged off-season for Thorpe, who tore ligaments in his shoulder in late April. However, it’s not unusual to have a long break over winter; Australia’s high-yielding rodeos are held between spring and autumn.
“Having a gap from the regular season-end to finals makes it a bit tricky,” he said.
“You have a six-month break and then it’s bang, a couple of rodeos, then finals.”
The unseasonably wet winter has disadvantaged cowboys from southern states, like Thorpe.
Now his shoulder has healed, it’s too wet to practice outside. He’s been using a bucking machine instead.
“It helps out a little bit, it’s still not the real deal, but you can only do what you can do,” he said.
In his first national titles appearance, Thorpe was unsuccessful. This time, he’s determined to pry the trophy away from O’Hearn’s grip.
“Jason, he’s a seasoned veteran, he rides pretty well under pressure,” Thorpe said.
“I think it’s about time someone else won it. It would be nice to come out as the Australian Champion; a dream come true.”
Wagga’s Sean Lynch and Tooma’s Brad Pierce will also contend for the title.
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