BARREL racing might be Sara Malone's forte but it's not the title she's after. This Emerald cowgirl has got bigger fish to fry.
Malone will head into this weekend's Central Rodeo Cowboys Association finals in Rockhampton as an unreserved favourite to take out this year's Rodeo Queen title.
But there will be no room for error, with consistent scores needed across the board and judges keeping an eagle-eye on riders both in and out of the competition ring.
"We're the face of the CRCA and we're being judged 24/7," Malone said.
"I'm pretty happy with my performance this year."
If the judging wasn't pressure enough, knowing there is plenty of healthy competition hot on her tail adds yet more fuel to the fire.
"It's huge pressure - I'm representing the region," she said.
"The finals are pretty much a clean slate.
"But there have been a few girls who were right up there (in the standings)."
Originally from Emerald, Malone moved to continue her riding in the southern zones near Warwick before moving back to the Central Highlands three months ago and quickly re-establishing her tough riding reputation.
She will ride seven-year-old Customise Cash in the final after a strong showing at the Mt Larcom rodeo last weekend.
But it wasn't all about the competition for Malone, who sticks up her hand to help with the Riding for the Disabled charity. Her presence certainly left its mark on her little fan.
"He was all excited because there were all these pretty cowgirls around," Malone said.
While the Emerald rider will be gunning with as much internal drive as she can summon, Malone said she and her fellow local competitors will need all the home-town support from Central Highlands fans as they can muster.
"We're looking for that support from the people," she said.
"It's a final so it will be pretty big so we want to make it extra special."
The CRCA finals will be run this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Rockhampton Heritage Village.
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