A competitor takes a firm bind on his bull at the Emerald rodeo.
A competitor takes a firm bind on his bull at the Emerald rodeo.

Rocky's Rookie just loves to ride

ROCKHAMPTON’S Jesse Van Nek has had a big night on the southern stage taking out the Rookie of the Year at the 2011 Professional Bull Riders Australian Cup Series National Finals at Sydney’s Acer Arena.

As one of the youngest riders in the competition, 18-year-old Van Nek said while the rookie title was certainly on his radar, he wasn’t one to keep track of the points standings.

“I didn’t even know how many points I had, I just ride my bulls. I love bull riding,” Van Nek said.

Charters Towers’ Jock Connolly was crowned the Australian Champion and New South Wales cowboy Ben Jones won the event.

“It’s pretty hard to ride bad when you’ve got a crowd like this in front of you,” said Jones of the 7000-strong Sydney crowd.

“I wouldn’t nod my head (referencing the go-ahead to buck a bull) if I didn’t think I could win,” he said, and in front of a home side crowd was even more sweet for the 33-year-old Sydney-born bull rider.

Van Nek may be able to take pointers from the Australian Champion Connolly, who is the oldest rider in the PBR Australian Cup Series.

But Connolly said his body hadn’t given up on him yet.

“My body still feels good, it still feels good to ride, and I want to keep going while that’s all in order,” Connolly said.

One of the best competition nights in Australian bull riding history, it was neck-and-neck going into the championship round. Young gun Van Nek led with 174 points, Ben Jones was in second with 173.5, Jared Farley in third with 172, Fraser Babbington had 169.5, Zane Lambert 169, Luke Snyder 167, Jason O’Hearn 164.5 and Pete Farley was in eighth with 164 points.

Connolly’s win granted him a prized berth at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas this October and Jones’ win upped him one spot in the world qualifier standings.


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