The best of WA rodeo entertainment has been presented in front of a big crowd at the Claremont Showgrounds for the first time since the 1970s and many first-time rodeo spectators gave the sport a triple star rating for its breathtaking thrills and spills. The rodeo spectacular, coordinated by Double Barrel Entertainment proprietors Mark and Jo Kestel, was part of The Muster Rodeo and Music Festival, hosted by the Royal Agricultural Society of WA on May 13. The muster combined the thrilling rodeo sport with some of the Australia’s top country music performers, all at the one event. The crowd of more than 13,000 were able to view all the thrills and spills in the rodeo arena and also listen to the live performances of top artists, including country music and outback icon Lee Kernaghan and internationally renowned singer and songwriter Kasey Chambers. Rodeo veteran Grant Edwards, who competed in the team roping competition and also judged the rough stock events, said all the animals were up to the professional standards guided by the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association that placed great importance on animal welfare. Placing second in the team roping, Mr Edwards was particularly proud of his granddaughter Kiara Edwards, 15, who won her first team roping title with the assistance of her roping partner Peter Allen. “It is great to see the younger generation come up the ranks, it’s a great family sport for rural people to be involved in,” Mr Edwards said. Ms Edwards, of South Yunderup, has been involved in rodeo with her family since she was four and started team roping two years ago. “It was exciting to compete in front of a big crowd,” she said. ABCRA WA rodeo queen Stef Clinch brought the pageantry of the sport to the Claremont arena, parading the Australian flag as the national anthem had the crowd singing along. Ms Clinch said bringing rodeo to Claremont was an opportunity for the sport’s competitors to show their skills to the city folks. Her husband Jamie Clinch, who gets involved as a bullfighting clown, was at his athletic best protecting fallen riders from any blow back from the bulls and also some comic relief to any concerned fans. There were some spectacular performances from the top open bull riders, with Muchea cowboy Jack Collins riding bucking bull Hammatime for a 77-point win. While the novice bull ride title went to Albany cowboy Flynn McCullough for a terrific 73-point ride, Esperance cowgirl Bella Gatto, 17, showed the crowd that female bull riders were drawing near their male counterparts. After winning the 14 to under-18 steer ride earlier, Gatto stepped up in the novice bulls showing her athletic talent but was unfortunately bucked-off. Mr Kestel said Gatto was a great ambassador of the sport and had potential to be one of the top bull riders in the State and capable of placing well in the national standings. In the other rough stock events, Kimberley cowboy Kit Le Lievre won the bareback event scoring 70 points, one point better than Gingin competitor Wade McCarthy, while John Brockhurst was best in the saddle bronc ride. Other top performing cowgirls included Louise De Rosa and Perth jockey Shelby Bowtell, who placed first and second respectively in the ladies barrel race, De Rosa winning by just .086 of a second. Bindoon cowgirl Lucy Oversby won the 11 to under-14 junior barrel race and her mum, Amanda Oversby, won the ladies breakaway event with a time of 2.77 seconds. With enthusiastic crowd support, including parents giving their children a bird’s eye view via shoulder seats, there is potential for future Claremont rodeos to take place as organisers consider better viewing options — it is a sport that is wonderful to capture in the best seating arrangements.