By HARRY CLARKE
CHAMPION campdrafter Ben Hall has backed up his eighth Condamine Bell victory with an emphatic win at the 2022 Chinchilla Grandfather Clock, igniting once again the opportunity to become campdrafting’s first ever winner of the elusive Triple Crown.
If Hall and his trusty mare Eltorrio were to succeed in the 2022 Warwick Gold Cup, the 45-year-old would make history by taking out campdrafting’s ‘big three’ events on the same horse in the same year – a feat no drafter has achieved before.
On top of the 100-odd thousand dollars he’d win from the big three circuit alone, Hall and his drafting family would also drive home (back up north to Muttaburra) with a bonus cheque for $30,000.
Trouble is the Warwick draft, originally scheduled for this week, has been temporarily washed out, so Hall and Eltorrio will have to carry the momentum they’ve built on the Western Downs over the past fortnight and be ready for whenever a new Gold Cup date is set.
“It’s good to see some moisture about but it is a shame about the Warwick draft being postponed. Hopefully they put it on soon. We’ll go down there and have a crack,” Hall said.
As heavy weekend rain lashed Chinchilla, Grandfather Clock finals had to be delayed 24 hours while the tireless local committee spent Saturday pumping three inches of water off the loamy local arena.
Hall had notched up 177 points from the first two rounds of open drafting, putting him among the top contenders going into the final.
A soaked surface at Chinchilla showgrounds and a mob of cattle who’d clearly had enough of the wet conditions made for a tough and unpredictable contest for the coveted clock trophy.
Most beasts were prepared to go around the first two pegs but even the best campdrafters in the business had trouble steering them around again and through the gate.
Hall’s final run was almost among those ending in tatters before Eltorrio bumped his stubborn beast back on course to record an 88 point draft and an unbeatable aggregate of 264.
“He was a handful,” Hall said of the beast he picked. “He wasn’t as easy as I thought he’d be. I thought he looked really good in the camp but he wasn’t that easy. She handled him really well.
“It’s hard to explain. It just happened. She’s a good mare and it all worked out well. These big drafts get harder every time because you’ve got that expectation, so when you do get the win it’s proper good.”
In a show of how tight the competition can be over three runs in the open draft, second place getter Bill Carey on Telly notched up 263 while Kimberley Sammon on Smith Family Eve and Troy Palmer on Who’s Devine shared third with 262.
Hall also claimed fifth place on Chisums Cash with 261 points.
From the first two legs alone of the Triple Crown series, the decorated drafter from north west Queensland has taken home more than $80,000 in prize money.
Good things came in twos for the Plant family of Chinchilla as Kristina Plant blitzed the final of the ladies Grandmother Clock.
She rode her beloved mare, Condet – the same horse which her husband Robert Plant rode to victory in the Grandfafther Clock open draft in 2021.
“It feels pretty good. This is something we all aim for – to win one of the big drafts, so I’m very happy,” Kristina Plant said.
“My father-in-law bred this horse and my husband and I have been working on him and we both love him. We like his temperament, his cattle sense, and he’s just really easy to have about.”
Plant was among six drafters sitting on 89 points after the opening round of the ladies draft, making for a hotly contested Grandmother Clock.
She was first up in the final, and her 88 point run for a total of 177 left her well clear of fellow top finishers Kimberly Sammon on Seligmans Ellie (173), Tahlia Dower on Baymak Rango (172) and Bridey Jonas on Sheady Dustry Acres (172).
“My husband picks all my cattle for me, so I’d be lost without him,” Plant said.
“I was a bit nervous because I’ve been first up in the ladies on him (Condet) before and we were unsuccessful. First isn’t my favourite spot but it came up.
“I was just relieved because all I aimed for was a clean yard and to get the gate. The fact that we got the gate, I was just relieved.
“It’s been a great weekend, seeing friends and just hanging out with friends who we haven’t caught up with for a long time. The win makes it even better.”
WATCH: Peter Knudsen seals Restricted Open victory with 88 point final round run off
Local experience also reigned supreme in the Restricted Open as Chinchilla’s Peter Knudsen broke a decades-long family hoodoo to win on his father’s mare Kilbeggan Kimberley.
Knudsen, who said his grandfather Hans Knudsen donated the inaugural Grandfather Clock trophy in the early 1960s, had to beat star drafter Will Durkin on Hazelwood Conspiracy in a final round “run off” after the pair both landed on 179 after two drafts.
Knudsen’s father, Wayne Knudsen, presented him the winning prize.
“It’s been a great campdraft and it means a little bit to win here on Mum and Dad’s horse,” Peter Knudsen said.
“Thanks to the committee, who’s put in a huge effort to get the grounds up to scratch. There’s been some great drafting.”
The Chinchilla Showground arena is famous among campdrafters for its ability to maintain condition despite heavy rain.
Some 35mm fell over Chinchilla on Friday night. With the arena already waterlogged from months of rain, nine hours had to be spent pumping water away on Saturday and reorganising cattle to ensure the finals could be held.
The logistical feat was led by Daniel Lithgow during his first year as president of the Chinchilla Campdraft Committee.
“It’s good to be at this end of the week. There was a couple of days in there that we wouldn’t want to repeat,” Lithgow told the Caller.
“The amount of rain we got in the middle really interfered with the plans but everyone rallied together and it was just a fantastic team effort to keep it going. Every member of the committee just hooked in.”
Lithgow, who took over the president’s position from his father, Greg Lithgow, also had drafting success when he won the saddled cut out competition on his father’s horse, Twice Rapt.
“It’s been a big undertaking (becoming president) but what makes it easier is having the best team you could ask for,” Daniel Lithgow said.
“The committee just loves campdrafting. Everyone’s got the same vision of making it better and making it grow.”