LOCKINGTON cowgirl Cherie O’Donoghue has won plenty of APRA titles before, but snapped a 10-year drought when she won this year’s Pro Tour Breakaway Roping title.
In a hard-fought campaign, O’Donoghue shook off a slow start to come good at the business end of the season, seeing off a strong fight from Queensland’s Leanne Caban.
With the title decided by most prize money accrued for the season, O’ Donoghue finished the season on $16,866, breaking away from Caban who ended up with $13,219.
O’Donoghue said taking the title hadn’t been at all easy.
‘‘I probably didn’t get off to the greatest start and it wasn’t going as well as I’d wanted,’’ she said.
‘‘After Christmas though was a lot better and I started to get on a bit of a roll. Leanne Caban led for most of the year, and then I’d take the lead, and she’d take it back.
‘‘She was a bit in front heading into the northern run which are some of the highest paying events, and I won a little bit there. Heading into Mt Isa I had to do something there and I won the round there.’’
After taking the lead, O’Donoghue had to fly to more events than intended late in the year to make sure of the win.
‘‘I flew up and stayed at a friend’s place. I had to organise to borrow a horse, but it was a really good and successful horse,’’ she said.
‘‘I went to Yeppoon and I won there and that pretty much secured it.’’
‘‘Everything had been going wrong at the start, but I just kept chipping away.’’
She said the Mt Isa triumph had been the season’s highlight, taking the near-$2000 first prize as a massive boost towards the title.
‘‘Most definitely, it’s not only the richest but it’s very prestigious. I had won it before but it was 10 years ago,’’ she said.
‘‘We had a lot of hard luck along the way and things weren’t going towards us, but at the last minute we pulled it together.’’
There was nearly further success for O’Donoghue; her breakaway roping prize money combined with strong performances in the barrel race taking her to second overall in the All Around Cowgirl standings.
But content with a seventh Pro Tour title, O’Donoghue said keeping up a high level of performance took a heap of work.
‘‘As much as I improve, there are as many other times when I wonder if I’m going backwards,’’ she said.
‘‘Roping is a very frustrating event. Everything can be going right but sometimes it just isn’t working.
‘‘When you’re roping well you wonder how you ever miss, and when you’re roping badly you wonder how you ever catch it.
‘‘But we put in a lot of practice and work at it a lot to make it part of your subconscious. The less you’re thinking the better you rope.’’
O’Donoghue was part of a strong local contingent competing in the National Finals at Warwick, but didn’t have her best showing, sneaking in for a second place in round three of the breakaway roping.
‘‘It was very average but that happens, and I still knew I had a Pro Tour title,’’ she said.
‘‘I had a bit of fun, but that was about all I got from it really.’’
Terry Evison had a series of strong results in the team roping finishing first, third and first in the opening three nights of competition, while Lee Kimber took fourth in round one of the rope and tie.