McCormack Park to host barrel race series
MERRIJIG will host its first ever barrel racing series when the first of five events is held next month.
Organised and run by outgoing Rodeo Queen of Australia, Latoya Wards, the Merrijig Barrel Racing Series (MBRS) will see competitors given the opportunity to run their horses for buckle, cash and other prizes – and all in a relaxed family friendly atmosphere.
“Barrel racing is a growing sport with riders of all levels and ages having a go and starting to compete in rodeos,” Ms Wards explained.
“By running a series - especially at this time of the year with the Christmas rodeos approaching - it also gives a lot of riders the chance to practice and run multiple horses in preparation for the rodeo season.”
Although the series is open to all rider ability levels, from the professional to the beginner, Ms Wards said she was particularly keen to see local Mansfield riders try their luck for the first time.
“You don’t have to be a riding superstar – I’d love to see local kids on their Shetland ponies just come out for a bit of fun.”
The MBRS will be held at McCormack Park, and the first two events, known as rounds, are scheduled for October 22 and 23.
The round one event will be on the Saturday, and will start from 2pm, with the Sunday event kicking off at 9am.
“For the Merrijig series we have affiliated with Rodeo Services Association which doesn’t require a membership to compete,” Ms Wards said.
“This means that anyone can enter - male, female, all horse types and riders of every age.”
Each day of competition starts with led riders, followed by under 8s, under 13s, junior divisional and then the first section of open riders.
Within the categories, Ms Wards said every effort would be made to group riders into ability levels so it was an even playing field.
“Because we call the open barrel race a “divisional”, it means you are competing against riders of the same times and level as you,” she explained.
“So a newcomer to the sport may still win a prize as all times are listed from fastest to slowest and divided into four divisions.”
The cost of the MBRS has also been designed to attract riders who may be new to the sport, with the led and under eight riders paying $10 for two runs, and just $2 thereafter.
The under 13 riders are $15 for two runs, with $10 payable for each horse after that, and it increases slightly for each category from there.
All funds raised from the competitions will be used to fund prizes and improve future events.
“The MBRS will run as a five event series, which means there will be five separate days of competition,” Ms Wards said.
“But, riders who attend j ust three of the events will be eligible to take home an overall rider buckle, which is really exciting, particularly for the younger kids.”
There is free camping available on site for those who require it, and there is also the opportunity for a local charity group to man the event barbecue – and take home the funds raised.
“I just want people to come out and have a go - barrel racing is a good sport to get into because anyone can do it and even though we are competing against each other we support each other,” Ms Wards said.
“I want this to be a family friendly series - we try to cater for families and the kids as much as possible.
“On the last round we will also run a novelty barrel race for the parents who haven’t competed in the series, which is just for a bit of fun.”
The third and fourth events in the series will be held on November 5 and 6, and the final round will be the first weekend in December.
For more details, or to enter, you can go to the Merrijig Barrel Racing page, or contact Latoya directly at [email protected]
BARREL FUN: A new event, to be held at McCormack Park, will see riders of all ages compete in a five event barrel race series. Pictured is a rider in the Open Ladies event at the Merrijig Rodeo.
QUEEN OF THE RODEO: Outgoing Australian Rodeo Queen, Latoya Wards, will run the Merrijig Barrel Race Series at her home ground, McCormack Park, where she is pictured earlier this year.