Consistent with many sports, the grand finale of the 2019/20 New Zealand Rodeo season has become a casualty of Covid-19 with the National Finals Rodeo being cancelled.
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Instead of the top eight contestants in each of the eight rodeo events fighting it out for national honours on March 28, the championship titles have been awarded to the those cowgirls and cowboys who were at the top of the standings when the regular season ended on February 29.
The competition has been intense all season, particularly for the prestigious title of best all-rounder. For the first time in New Zealand Rodeo's history a cowgirl, Rhondine Long from Oxford, was leading the standings for best all-rounder only to lose her lead to previous winner Corey Church, of Rotorua, by the narrowest of margins – a mere 33 points.
Defending all-round champion Patrick McCarthy, of Wanaka, had to settle for third place but won the Rope and Tie championship title for the second consecutive year.
The Saddle Bronc event produced another tight tussle between Jeremy Dillon, of Kaikoura, and Lane Whitelock, of Hastings, with Dillon emerging as the victor to take the title.
"It's been a good rodeo season with top class competition," NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association president Lyal Cocks said.
"We feel for those competitors who will be disappointed not to be able to change their standings at the finals, and maybe win a championship title, but these are the times we live in.
"The future of the sport of rodeo is looking very strong judging by the large number of talented contestants competing at the junior and Second Division level, several of whom have won Junior and Rookie championship titles this season."
These included 15-year-old Broc Maki, of Rotorua, who won the All Round Junior title by finishing first in the Junior Barrel Race, sixth in the Novice Steer Ride and excelling in Team Roping, and 18-year-old Kurtis Pertab, of Matamata, who was named the All Round Rookie champion due to his top performances in roping events, Lyal said.
2019-20 New Zealand Rodeo Champions
Junior Steer Ride: Leroy Pertab, Matamata.
Novice Steer Ride: Rylee Ward, Waipukurau.
Junior Barrel Race: Broc Maki, Rotorua.
All Round Junior: Broc Maki, Rotorua.
Bareback: Johnson Davis, Rotorua.
Rope & Tie: Ryan Harris-Hayes, Whakatane.
Saddle Bronc: Oscar Nott, Wanaka.
Barrel Race: Nancy Franco, Christchurch.
Steer Wrestling: Andy Scobie, Invercargill.
TR – header: Ryan O'Callaghan, Kaitaia.
TR – heeler: Luke Breingan, Mangakino.
Bull Ride: Fischer Wharerau, Rotorua.
All Round Rookie: Kurtis Pertab, Matamata.
Bareback: Adam Williams, Rakaia.
Rope & Tie: Patrick McCarthy, Wanaka.
Saddle Bronc: Jeremy Dillon, Kaikoura.
Barrel Race: Rhondine Long, Oxford.
Steer Wrestling Greg Lamb, Gore.
Team Roping – header Ryan O'Callaghan, Kaitaia.
Team Roping – heeler Waylon Gibson, Taupo.
Bull Ride Macaulie Leather, Australia.
All Round Corey Church, Rotorua.