SHE was so close but so far.
Just two points separated Emerald cowgirl Sara Malone from the CRCA Rodeo Queen title after a nail-biting season finale at the Rockhampton Heritage Village earlier this month.
While the ultimate prize may have eluded her this year, she did receive the next best thing - the coveted Miss Horsemanship title.
"I'm a bit disappointed," Malone said after missing out on the queen title.
The gutsy local finalist had been slogging it out all season for her place among the top nominees in the grand final. But season points mattered for little in the clean-slate nature of the finals competition.
Malone said the points deficit came as a bit of a shock with a near faultless run in Rockhampton.
"I thought I did quite well," Malone said.
"My stallion was just amazing, he did a perfect job.
"I couldn't have asked for a better performance really."
Her seven-year-old stallion Customise Cash presented and performed to perfection in Malone's eyes, in a category which was being judged around the clock - both in and out of the ring.
After a tough few days in competition, even Cash was feeling the strain and tried sneaking a few moments rest on the trip back home.
"You could feel him wobbling around in the back," she said.
"He must have been really tired.
"It sounded like he was going to sleep."
The two-point loss has done little to deter Malone, who was keen to get back on the horse and challenge once again for the Rodeo Queen title in 2012.
"I really want to do it again," she said.
"And hopefully I can be a bit more successful."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.