Jockey bucks fam­ily trend to ride bulls

Bull rider dropped horse rac­ing in Tas­ma­nia to fol­low a dream

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - KIRILI LAMB kirili.lamb@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

BULL rider Kyle Mask­iell is a long way from his ori­gins in Tas­ma­nian horse rac­ing but he’s cer­tainly fol­low­ing his dreams.

Ru­ral Weekly caught up with Mask­iell while he was in Dar­win, about to travel to Cairns to com­pete in the Ge­orge­town and Ma­reeba rodeos.

The 18-year-old is the youngest rider on the cir­cuit and cur­rently ranked num­ber two on the Aus­tralian Pro­fes­sional Rodeo As­so­ci­a­tion stand­ings.

“APRA is the as­so­ci­a­tion I am chas­ing the most and the goal is ob­vi­ously to win the Aus­tralian ti­tle this year and I’m cur­rently at num­ber two,” he said.

“It’s been my goal for the year and I’m glad I’m get­ting close. But there’s five rodeos to go and it’s pretty tight – it’s still any­one’s ti­tle.”

He’s chas­ing a dif­fer­ent des­tiny to fam­ily tra­di­tion.

Mask­iell’s fam­ily has a strong pedi­gree when it comes to Tas­ma­nian horse rac­ing, with brother Ja­son and fa­ther Stephen both suc­cess­ful jock­eys and grand­fa­ther Ken Han­son a horse trainer.

Mask­iell­spent 18 months work­ing as a jockey as a 15-year-old, but he said bull rid­ing had al­ways been his dream.

“I got on my first steer when I was about 10 or 12,” he said.

“My grand­fa­ther was a horse trainer and there was a breaker there and he rode broncs and he said ‘come down and get on a steer’ and I just sort of fell in love with it.”

Tas­ma­nia has sev­eral rodeos, which al­lowed Mask­iell to gain his ground.

In the past 12 months he made the shift to the Vic­to­rian cir­cuit, where he was able to con­nect with pro­fes­sional rid­ers who helped him tran­si­tion to the Aus­tralian pro-rider cir­cuit, such as Tully’s Sam O’Con­nor, who sadly suf­fered se­vere spinal in­juries in a spill at a Rock­hamp­ton event this year.

He cred­its that past jockey ex­pe­ri­ence with help­ing with skills such as bal­ance in his cur­rent sport but oth­er­wise there’s no com­par­i­son.

Co­in­ci­den­tally, his re­cent win in the Open Bull event at Noonamah Tav­ern Rodeo, near Dar­win, was on the same week­end that brother Ja­son, vis­it­ing the NT for the Dar­win Cup Car­ni­val sea­son, won three events in a day at the Dar­win Turf Club.

“It was a good day for the Tassie boys,” Mask­iell said.

The rodeo cir­cuit of­fers a lot of ap­peal in terms of life­style.

“There wouldn’t be a lot of peo­ple my age who have trav­elled around as much as I have,” he said.

“It’s def­i­nitely the life. “We’re all best mates, there’s not a lot of com­pe­ti­tion be­tween us fel­las, it’s be­tween us and the bulls at the end of the day.

“A lot of us travel around to­gether in vans, all packed up full of bull rid­ers.

“There’s a lot of time on the road be­tween events.

“Our homes are scat­tered all around Aus­tralia, of course, and you meet a lot of peo­ple along the way, so there’s of­ten some­where to stay.”

Mask­iell is keen to take bull rid­ing as far as he can, start­ing with tak­ing out the APRA ti­tle this year.

“Prob­a­bly next year I will have a good go at the PBR and then I will take my­self over to Canada and the States in the next cou­ple of years,” he said.

HOLD­ING ON: Kyle Mask­iell on Hamma Time at the Noonamah Rodeo, North­ern Ter­ri­tory, on his way to tak­ing out round two of the Open Bull. PHOTO: MARK WIL­TON

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