Stars of the west shine bright

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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The Wellard Star of the West Campdraft attracted big crowds and more than 1000 entries at Pinjarra on November 13-14, with some competitors coming from as far as Fitzroy Crossing.

The annual showcase continues to attract the best riders drawn to the intense, dust-covered action and the chance to pit themselves against the best.

Graham Oliver, of Donnybrook, demonstrated his prowess by manoeuvring a beast through a series of markers to take out the Glenvar Hay restricted open draft.

The third annual draft, sponsored by Wellard Rural Exports, was held at a new venue this year — special thanks went to the McLarty family for providing use of their Boar Swamp property.

Wellard managing director Steve Meerwald opened the draft, wishing the competitors a most enjoyable experience.

“We take great pleasure in bringing the community of drafters together and we wish to provide an event that encourages the progression of this unique Australian sport, ” Mr Meerwald said.

Campdraft event organisers Justin and Rhys Morrissey and the many volunteers ran the three-day draft like clockwork from start to finish.

Saturday’s twilight Glenvar Hay restricted open produced the highest round score of the weekend.

Attracting 35 of WA’s best horse and rider combinations, the competitive level was matched by some very spirited Calcutta bidding for one lucky punter’s chance to share in the fortunes of the winners’ circle.

First competitor to go was John Edgley, of Albany, riding his grey mount, Ser. Together, they illuminated the arena with a mighty 84-point opening score.

But the overwhelming magic came from Graham Oliver, of Donnybrook, and his Palomino, Merlin, who together set the leader board alight with an unmatched 91-point score.

For Oliver, 56, the victory was sealed in that first round near-perfect score, which capped off his 11th year of campdrafting with a win.

“I selected a steer with fresh legs and it felt like a blur from there as my horse geared up for the challenge, ” Oliver said. “I will never forget that rush through the final gate.”

In the Wellard Rural Exports open event, veteran campaigner Frank Angel, of Manjimup, riding his red roan horse, Postscript, took on a field of 92 entries and won outright with three consistent runs on the board.

“Success in this sport comes mostly from understanding how cattle think, ” Mr Angel said.

Also performing to top standards was Lynne Reid, of Mount Barker, who was best in the Meat and Livestock Australia Livecorp ladies draft.

Friday evening’s 20 entry cut-out shoot-out draft had Rhys Morrissey taking time off his announcing duties to get on board Acres of Frost in a cut-out only competition.

Mr Morrissey’s strategy scored highly for the win against some of WA’s best horses and riders when it comes to drafting a steer out of the camp.

The largest numbers of entries were divided up into the two separate novice and maiden drafts.

The novice respective wins went to Steven McDowall, of York, riding Molly, and first time winner Brandon Wood, 15, of Harvey, riding Swanky.

The maiden wins went to Max Fry, riding Colour Me Wagon, and Joe Pederick, on Condamine Showdown, both from Benger.

Mr Wood said his horse was good enough to win against the tough station cattle that challenged every rider throughout the draft.

Another young rider to perform honourably with a first win was Tom Gibbs, nine, of Gingin, who was the best of the junior riders.

In the juvenile competition, Harvey agricultural student Arianna Varishcetti, 16, won her event.

In addition, Narrogin agricultural student Freya Tomasini, 17, won against 94 other riders in the encouragement draft.

The next Boar Swamp campdraft, hosted by the McLarty family, will take place April 1–3, 2011.

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