Kennedy seeking winning send-off

KYOGLE cowboy Dave Kennedy is keen to leave Australian rodeo on top as he answers the call of the rich professional tour in the United States.

The 2008 Australian bullriding champion will defend his title on the Gold Coast next month before making the journey across the Pacific Ocean, where the prize money dwarfs Australian rodeo’s offerings.

The 25-year-old tested the waters with a 10-week stint in Canada last year and proved to himself that it was worthwhile making a more permanent move to North America to chase the riches.

“There are a few Aussies over there competing with the best of them so the time is right for me to have my shot,” Kennedy said.

“The money over there is unbelievable; in Australia you can barely make a living out of the sport while over there you can get rich.”

Kennedy will join the United States tour in late January but before then will attempt to go back-to-back as Australian champion.

The 2009 National Rodeo Finals will be held on the Gold Coast over four days starting today.

The top 15 riders in each discipline will contest the event and Kennedy is feeling confident despite only just sneaking into the finals.

“I finished the year ranked 13th in the country,” he said.

“But everyone who qualifies for the finals goes in on a level footing.”

The Gold Coast Convention Centre will host the finals for the third consecutive – a far cry from the traditional outback stomping ground of the rodeo, but Kennedy thinks holding the event in such places only adds to the spectacle.

“I love riding on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“All year round we ride outside in the dust and the rain then we get inside and it’s a whole new ball game.

“The atmosphere that the closed arena creates for us is unbelievable and the crowd loves it as well.”

While the shining lights of American rodeo are firmly in Kennedy’s sights, there is nothing more pressing in his mind than leaving Australia on a high.

“No doubt I would love to be Australian champion again, to leave as No.1 would be perfect.”

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