Ben Lees wins the big prizes in the Orange Rodeo

KICKING: Shaun Read takes a wild ride during Saturday night's rodeo at the Orange showgrounds. Photos: JUDE KEOGH

KICKING: Shaun Read takes a wild ride during Saturday night's rodeo at the Orange showgrounds. Photos: JUDE KEOGH

CROWDED HOUSE: Organisers were delighted with the response of Orange people to the rodeo which attracted 4300 people for a night of thrills and spills.

CROWDED HOUSE: Organisers were delighted with the response of Orange people to the rodeo which attracted 4300 people for a night of thrills and spills.

Ben Lees claimed the glory in a night of action before a big crowd at the Orange Rodeo on Saturday night.

Lees, 36, of Singleton, won the All-round Cowboy title as well as being the Australian bareback rider and East Coast saddlebronc champions.

HOLDING ON: Troy Burtenshaw clings to the back of a bucking bull.

HOLDING ON: Troy Burtenshaw clings to the back of a bucking bull.

President of the East Coast championships, Al Wilson said: “He’s a top gun in the rodeo industry. He’s won many East Coast championships and Australian national championships.”

Other winners included Josh Barnett in the open bull ride, Brendon Crawley in the novice bull ride and Bianca Hurdle in the ladies barrel racing. There was a three-way tie in the steer riding with Clayton Miners, Jack Barnes and Brett Lewis-Jackson sharing the spoils.

Wilson said the biggest hit of the night was taken by bullfighting protection clown Matt Darmody who was hit by a bull in the last round and broke his arm.

“Most people wouldn’t have known it had happened as it was in the last round. He just got hit by a bull and broke his arm. He finished the event before going to hospital.”

Wilson said Darmody had already needed both knees reconstructed and surgery to his shoulder after other hits during his career.

“He specialises in saving cowboys from charging bulls. It’s the world’s most dangerous job and bull-fighting is the world’s most dangerous sport,” he said.

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