By HARRY CLARKE
THERE were tears of joy from family and friends as Robert Plant finally relived the campdrafting success he enjoyed 27 years ago, beating a field of champions in a nail biting contest to win the coveted Chinchilla Grandfather Clock for 2021.
It was 1994 when Plant won his first Grandfather Clock. He was just 19-years-old and remains the youngest ever competitor to win the prestigious trophy offered at his home town draft.
Plant said his success once again, this weekend at the age of 46, was testament to just how challenging it was to string three unbeatable runs together amid the intense pressure of the Chinchilla Showround.
“It’s not easy to win,” Plant said.
“I was probably too young to realise what I did the first time in 1994. When it takes so long to win it again you realise how difficult it is.
“Not everyone gets to win one of these, so it’s really good.”
In a blistering 91-point run in the final round, Plant rode his stallion Condet to accumulate a total of 270 points, edging out Pete Comiskey (Archdale Convoy), Will Durkin (Glamour) and Steve Comiskey (Design In Mind), who all scored 269.
Close behind the top four were Condamine Bell winner Ben Hall (Classy Dove) and Will Durkin (Hazelwood Conspiracy) on 268.
“I wasn’t confident. It was very nerve racking,” Plant laughed.
“All the best riders are here and you’ve got to have a lot of luck.”
“Condet is our stallion. We’ve got a few young ones by him and it’s good to promote your horse with a win like this.
“My wife’s been riding the horse for the last couple of years and I just got the lend of him for this weekend, so she’s pretty happy about it.
“She’s done a lot of work on him and I got to reap the rewards.”
Hundreds of spectators gathered around the arena on the final day of the Grandfather Clock, the second event on the prestigious Triple Crown series.
With more than $150,000 in prize money up for grabs at Chinchilla alone and the chance to be written into campdrafting history books, the annual event inevitably draws the sport’s best competitors.
The ‘Grandmother’ Clock is awarded to the winner of the Ladies Draft and this year it was Jess Hoffman from Charters Towers who’s taking home the cash and trophy.
Hoffman also earned eighth place prize money in the Open Draft and fell just shy of a placing in the Novice Draft, making her one of the all round top performers over the weekend.
As Robert Plant did in the Open Draft final, Hoffman scored 91 on home bred mare Lady Antebellum for a 179 point total, overcoming local drafter Shari Knudsen (Chis Playgirl) and Jessica Dodwell (Johnybsmart), both with 176.
“I feel honoured. It’s a prestigious event,” Hoffman said.
“To win any of the three big ones (Condamine, Chinchilla and Warwick) is a big milestone, especially for someone like me who just does a few local drafts up north.
“I really enjoy it. I love coming down here. I have lots of friends down here that I only see once a year.
“I enjoy it more just to come and see my mates and having a good time, rather than winning.”
It was an extra special victory for Hoffman, a former Condamine Bell winner, as she was competing on the Triple Crown tour as a mother for the first time.
Asked whether her 18-month-old daughter had worked out that she had become a Chinchilla champion, Hoffman said: “She already knows everything, but I don’t think she’s realised this yet.”
Hoffman lives on her family’s large commercial Brahman property, Laroona Station, 120km north of Charters Towers. The Hoffmans also run a cane farm at Ingham.
“Campdrafting is sort of like your job at home. When you can put your job into your fun, and what you love, it becomes a bit of an addiction,” she said.