Saddled up to ride this Sunday

THE cowboys have come to the coast and are primed for the action at the second Kendall Rodeo on Sunday.

Entries are already up by 23, with 118 signed up to take part this year.

Entrants include Walcha’s Carl Green, Attunga’s Luke Morgan and Quirindi’s Mark Palmer, the former Australian saddle bronc champion.

Duncan Elks, the reigning bull ride champion, will also compete.

The best of the stock will be there, too. Ride Tuff Sports Machine will be in town.

No one has ever ridden the sixth-generation bucking bull for the full eight seconds. The closest a cowboy has come is two seconds.

A packed program of events gets underway at noon with the 14-18 steer ride and culminating in the open bull ride.

Organiser Jodi Laurie couldn’t wait for the event to get  underway.

“We’re already up on last year, so it’s really good,” she said. “I’m just wishing for a nice, sunny day, with a bit of a cool breeze, if I can be particular.”

Laurie hoped, like last year, to capitalise on the rodeo coming off the back of Wingham’s event, the day before. “The cowboys will already be on the coast,” she said.

“Everything seems to be working well for us.”

For Mal Fitzgerald, it’s all about the spectacle, and the kids. The man they call Fitzy provides entertainment between events, as a rodeo clown.

He loves the atmosphere, after last year’s inaugural rodeo. 

“Last year was phenomenal,” he said. “It was brilliant. There were a lot of families there.”

His act includes a blue cattle dog, Rusty, who sings happy birthday. If you’re in the crowd and it’s your birthday, look out, you might be targeted.

“We generally pull someone out of the crowd and sing happy birthday,” Fitzgerald said.

Merlin the Magical Pony is also in his act, but don’t call him that. “He’s actually a miniature horse,” Fitzgerald said. “He doesn’t like being called a pony.”

The former jockey has been around horses for the majority of his 43 years, and said that was what attracted him to events like Kendall’s.

These days he coaches apprentice jockeys, but still has a love for the animals. “I was brought up on a farm at Dunedoo,” he said.

Matt Zarb and his band will provide entertainment after the events have wrapped up, until 9pm.

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