EMERALD cowgirl Leanne Caban had all but given up hope of taking out the top title at the Central Rodeo Cowboys Association finals in Rockhampton last weekend.
So you can imagine her surprise when it was announced she had won the 2012 all-round cowgirl title - one of the highest honours bestowed on any competitor at the finals.
"I really wasn't expecting it at all," Caban said.
"I went into the finals a fair way behind the leaders and just managed to sneak around them."
With a little luck and consistent performances across her two chosen disciplines - the ladies' barrel race and breakaway roping - Caban got the edge on Central Queensland rivals Leanne Kenny, of Emerald, Jill Lyons and Gracemere youngster Karly Morgan. Morgan stepped up from the junior divisions last year to claim this year's CRCA ladies' barrel race title.
"They (my rivals) are all really tough to compete with at the best of times - and in any given competition," Caban said.
"I didn't think I was in the running, so I wasn't looking at the points. I thought what will be will be.
"I was just hoping for the average," she said.
By the final count, however, Caban had finished 20 points clear of her nearest competitor to claim her third CRCA all-round title. She also won in 2005 and 2009.
Emerald's Shane Kenny made it a clean sweep for the Central Highlands, winning the all-round cowboy title.
Rarely far from a placing, Kenny capitalised in the rope and tie and won the final two rounds of competition - backed by admirable performances in the steer wrestling as well.
Springsure saddle bronc rider Alan Powell could summon just one win at last weekend's finals but had the points in reserve to be crowned the 2012 open saddle bronc champion.
The newly wed Powell said despite a rougher than usual ride last weekend, it was good to finish off on a high and take a win in the final round.
He thanked his family and friends for their support throughout the season.
For Caban and her partner, Dale, the plan now is to rest and recoup ahead of the southern run on the Australian Professional Rodeo Association circuit.
Poised nicely in the top 15 breakaway ropers in Australia, Caban said she held strong hopes of securing a place at next year's APRA finals on the Gold Coast.
The Caban household celebrated another winner at last weekend's finals, with eight-year-old Maddison also taking out the pee wee barrel race, 10 and under division.
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