Aussie cowboy misses out on victory
MORE than 5000 fans watched as American bull riding champion Ryan McConnel snatched victory from Australian Ben Thorpe with his final ride in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Challenge event at the Gold Coast on Saturday night.
McConnel edged out Thorpe by just three points on a night when many of the Australians stumbled at the final hurdle.
Australians filled nine of the 10 places in the final round but the American held his nerve and composure to claim the title at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
McConnel set the pace early in the night with a blistering 89.5-point ride on Trevor Dunne's Packin Heat.
That handed him the lead after the long round and also ensured he would ride last in the deciding round.
For the final round McConnel drew Blue Dog Toyland, rated one of Australia's rankest bulls, but he took complete charge to finish with 88 points and secure the 2009 PBR World Challenge championship buckle.
Thorp was the leader of the Australians, finishing runner-up for the second week in a row after a podium finish at the PBR Touring Pro in Ingham last weekend.
On Friday night, the Australian team downed the Rest of the World team to make it three from three in the PBR team challenge after wins in the opening events in Townsville and Newcastle.