Scone farrier Bret Jones will be hoping it’s a case of eighth time lucky this weekend as he puts his hat in the ring for the eighth time to compete for the glorious title of King of the Ranges, in Murrurundi.
Mr Jones has pulled out all stops to ensure his six year old stock horse gelding Falconhurst Formidable is in top shape, alongside his devoted kelpie Rocky who will be assisting the stockman this weekend in the cattle handling section.
“Last year I came fourth, so I’ll be looking to do better than that this year,” Mr Jones said.
The six preliminary events of the challenge include shoeing a horse, packing a packsaddle, completing a cross country course, whip cracking, bareback obstacle course and cattle handling with two feature events for the top ten finalists, buckjumping and the brumby catch.
Mr Jones said he was confident in some sections more than others.
“Being a farrier shoeing is something I don’t have to practise for, but I really enjoy competing in the bareback.
“You can never tell how you are going to go in the cattle handling as a lot of that depends on the cattle, and how well your dog goes.
“It’s the only challenge in NSW that incorporates dog work, which I think is very relevant around this area where stockmen need a good dog to work a lot of the country.
“I haven’t had as much time to prepare my dog on cattle as I would have liked so it will be interesting to see how we go,” Mr Jones said.
As the competition draws closer, Mr Jones said there were several competitors he would be watching out for.
“Dave Winter from Wallabadah is another farrier, he’s always good and young David Andrews from Rouchel was only just out of the final last year so I’m sure he will be very competitive again.
“John Mitchell from Cooma won the Cooryong Challenge last month and his brother David will be coming up to contest the challenge as will Scott and Robert Bandy from Tumut who have both won challenges before.
“King of the Ranges is a great concept which I think people really enjoy to watch because it showcases Australian stockmen and the wide range of skills that they have,” Mr Jones said.
The King of the Ranges challenge runs from Friday to Sunday in Murrurundi.