A Queensland man has won the biggest prize pool ever offered at the Coolah Campdraft, in Central West NSW.
With heavy pockets, Will Durkin will make the 1,600 kilometre journey home to Charters Towers after winning the $25,000 first place in the open campdraft section.
“Campdrafting is a consistency game and I just ended up having three clean runs and not many others did I guess, and I ended up on top,” Mr Durkin said about his biggest win to date.
With less than 90 seconds for the rider to cut a beast from mob of about six in a small yard, then move it around a course in a larger paddock, it may not take long to make the points and claim the top prize on the day — but there’s years of training behind the scenes.
“You try not to think too much about anyone else, you just got to do what you do and hope that it’s good enough at the end.”
Coolah Valley Campdraft President Troy Palmer said a total of $102,000 cash was on offer across the weekend, plus donated goods.
“We’ve been wanting to run a big draft here so we put a good entry fee on and jackpotted some of the money back,” Mr Palmer said.
“This draft here, prize money wise, would be well up in the top three or four drafts in Australia.
Campdrafting has been a weekend staple for many riders and families who use horses to work livestock on their properties, but due to COVID-19, many events were forced to cancel.
The calendar is now slowly filling up again.
“Everyone’s been locked up with COVID and all wanting to go somewhere and get out and do something,” Mr Palmer said.
“People in the bush have been a bit frustrated with COVID so we were happy to get out and socialise a bit and see friends [we] haven’t seen in a while.
“It really pulled up all our drafts in the North and a lot of the ringers up there suffered a bit not being able to go anywhere,” Mr Durkin said.
“We appreciate anyone who is willing to put the work in … and hopefully they come up home and we get to do the same for them.”
Drought impacted campdrafts
Drought conditions also pulled up many campdrafts, with cattle too valuable to donate for the events — but with the seasonal turnaround, riders are chomping at the bit to get back on the course.
“We’re just very lucky to get to chase them and with how much they’re worth at the moment. People are donating them. It’s a big deal,” Mr Durkin said.
“We’re pretty fortunate that our sport is allowing us to ride for this sort of money.
“It’s just something that comes off what we do for work and make a living out of it. Then we can go and have fun and make some [more] money out of it.
With near record entry numbers to chase the jackpot, Mr Palmer is planning to hold more events of the same calibre as this in the next 12 to 18 months.