By GERARD WALSH, APRA

TWO of the rising stars of the sport of rodeo will be aiming to win the barrel race at the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo this week.

The rodeo has attracted 830 nominations, a record for both Mount Isa and the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA).

Last weekend at the Cloncurry Rodeo, Oakey (Qld) rider Kate Patch won the barrel race in a time of 17.850 seconds.

She was second into the arena at 11am Friday and had to wait 32 hours for 64 more riders to see if she would maintain the lead.

Patch, 26, was a previously jockey but is now a full time track rider at Clifford Park Racecourse in Toowoomba.

Title contender Kate Patch. IMAGE Supplied

She rides a thoroughbred gelding named Red who was retired from the track at the age of six and turned into a classy barrel racing horse over the past four years.

Patch is travelling through North Queensland with her brother Todd Patch, his wife Tamara and their mother Denise Fisk.

“Winning at Cloncurry has been the high point of my career,” she said.

Two months ago, she wasn’t thinking about the Ariat National Finals Warwick Rodeo in late October but will now compete at Mount Isa this weekend and Townsville next weekend in quest of a top-15 spot on the 2020/2021 standings and a spot in the finals.

“After winning at Cloncurry, I am thinking the pressure is off me as I chase a place at Mount Isa,” she said.

Rising Barrel Racing star Hillary Thrift. IMAGE: Barry Richard Photography

Zara Benjamin hails from Mt Morgan in Central Queensland and has also caught the attention of fellow barrel racers after a win at Emerald in June, seconds at the Destiny Downs Timed Event Rodeo and Roma and a win at Biloela. She placed sixth in the barrel race at Taroom so should be getting close to securing a spot in the final.

At age 22, the Mt Morgan rider is competing in her first Northern Run on her seven-year-old gelding Bear.

Her time of 16.341 at Emerald pushed Patch into second place with 16.384.

“I will be as ready as I ever will be for the national finals in Warwick,” she said.

Away from rodeo, Benjamin works in maintenance administration at the Jellinbah Mine at Bluff in Central Queensland.

Curry Muster Rodeo secretary Carlie Remfrey said they had record nominations and a record crowd at Cloncurry last weekend.

“We beat the crowd record figure which was set in 2019,” she said.

There are 80 nominations in the barrel race and 83 in ladies breakaway roping at Mt Isa.

One of the toughest to beat in the barrel race at Mount Isa will be Emerald cowgirl Ellysa Kenny (pictured main) who finished fourth behind Benjamin, Patch and Hilary Thrift at Emerald in June.

Mitchell cowboy Greg Hamilton. IMAGE: Barry Richards Photography

Mitchell cowboy Greg Hamilton won the Ken Coleman Memorial Saddle Bronc Ride at the Curry Merry Muster.

The Mt Isa Rodeo has attracted 101 entries in open saddle bronc ride, bull ride and bareback bronc ride as well as 118 second-division rough stock entries and 35 in the junior steer ride .

There are 36 nominations in the rope and tie and 38 in the steer wrestling.

The future of rodeo looks secure after 148 juniors nominated for the four junior events at Mt Isa.

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