PBR win secures O'Connor qualification for November Cup Series
THE situation could hardly have been more dire for Sam O'Connor heading into Saturday's rodeo at the North Ipswich Reserve.
By his own admission the Mt Walker resident's form had been poor heading into round six of the Australian Professional Bull Riders series.
So the win he needed to qualify for the $100,000 November Cup Series seemed a long shot.
Then when he found out the bull he was drawn to ride first up his hopes sank further.
Blue Dog Bluey had been unridden in 10 starts.
"He bucked off Jared Farley who is a five times world finals qualifier," O'Connor said.
"I thought, 'God, can my luck get any worse?'"
Perhaps it was the desperation of the situation that brought out O'Connor's best.
"There's always that in the back of your mind," he said.
"I said to myself, 'Let's just give it everything I've got and hopefully turn things around."
Saying it is one thing, but staying on the back of a 700kg bovine bred to throw off humans another entirely.
"It was no walk in the park," O'Connor said.
"He had me working from the moment I called for the gate.
"He gets out pretty fast and hard, and when he hits the corner he hits it at 100 miles an hour.
"It makes it hard to stay up square."
O'Connor managed to do so for long enough and, with confidence boosted, repeated the feat in his next ride on Big Bucks, a Bull of the Year contender.
But O'Connor had ridden him before and was able to repeat the feat to take out the Ipswich title.
O'Connor was one of only two riders to complete two rides, the other being runner up Dave Mason, from Buladelah, NSW.
The 24-year-old O'Connor hails from Tully in North Queensland, but has been living at Mt Walker since February.
"It's a pretty big confidence booster for the rest of the year," he said of his win. "There's a good line-up for the Cup series so to be in the mix is pretty cool."
That line-up includes two of the world's best riders in Brazilian pair Silvano Alves and Robson Palermo.
Alves is a two-time world champion and Palermo a three-time world finals champion.
The PBR series continues at the weekend in Wagga Wagga, before the November Cup Series, which features events at Caboolture, Christchurch (NZ), Townsville and Tamworth.
"I feel good again," O'Connor said.
"Hopefully next week in Wagga is even better for me. It's given me a bit of a confidence boost going into the cup series.
"I've won one of the Cup series in July so I know I can do it now."
Pro Bull Riding Tour round at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday night:
- 1st: Sam O'Connor (Mt Walker, Qld) 169 points
- 2nd: Dave Mason (Buladelah, NSW) 165.5 points
- 3rd: Troy Wilkinson (Tamworth, NSW) 85 points
- 4th: Mitchell Loudon (Emerald, Qld) 83.5 points.