IN ACTION AT THE BUCKLE
“Terry came up with the concept for the Gold Buckle itself,” explains Troy. “We’ve sourced the buckle from America. It’s a one of a kind; there’s not another like it in Australia. It’s solid gold, so it’s as nice a buckle as you’d want to win anywhere in the world.” Valued at close to $10,000, it’s certainly not a bad accessory to have in the belt drawer. “A lot of people want to win the Gold Buckle now more than any other draft. The $100,000 is a big carrot, but also just to have that buckle on their belt.”
From the Willinga Park team, Troy says you’ll see a number of different horses in action on home soil at this year’s event. “You’ll see Hells A Comin, who won the aggregate award and was sixth overall in last year’s Gold Buckle, as well as Whos Divine, WillingaPark Flos Playboy and WillingaPark Fables Playboy. Andrew Turvey will also be competing on Kneipps Destinys Playgirl.”
Troy is also riding his own Impressive Destiny. “ID will be there again, he was second last year. It’ll possibly be his last draft; if he wins, it’ll definitely be his last. Otherwise, while he’s still very sound and enjoying what he’s doing I’ll keep him going; he’ll tell me when he’s had enough.”
Horses aside, the 2022 Gold Buckle will also feature 2,500 specially selected Herefords – a logistical feat in itself, considering they must be trucked over from Murrumbateman. All are Herefords owned by Willinga Park: “I’ve provided all the cattle because I wanted the quality and consistency,” explains Terry. “We’re riding through them now, taming them, and getting them inducted.”
The event is not only exciting for competitors; evolving year to year, it’s become a major drawcard for spectators as well. “It’s another day longer this year than last year; it’s all turned out to be a very big and exciting affair, which I’m delighted with… and also probably four or five thousand people that will come along. I’m sure they’ll be delighted too,” enthuses Terry.
“We’ve improved the facilities; we’ve got two big grandstands and we’re putting in a temporary grandstand to increase the number of seats. We’re going to have 500 contestants. We’ve put in a competition for teams… that’s very, very exciting because it’s a state-of-origin event, and Australians like to back their state! And we’ve also got an event now for children, and we’re very excited about that. All in all, it’s just right over the top this year. It’s fantastic.” A concert with Lee Kernaghan tops off the event Saturday night, and is sure to be a post-competition celebration like no other.