ROUGH RIDER: Veteran campdrafter of 66 years Vic Gough will compete in the stallion draft at the Warwick Rodeo today on his stallion Captain Barbados.
ROUGH RIDER: Veteran campdrafter of 66 years Vic Gough will compete in the stallion draft at the Warwick Rodeo today on his stallion Captain Barbados. Jayden Brown

Chasing the elusive Warwick Gold Cup for 66 years

HE'S won the bull ride, the bronc ride, the steer wrestling and a number of campdrafting events.

But for Vic Gough it's the elusive Gold Cup that's kept him coming back to Warwick for 66 years.

The 84-year-old Lowood campdrafter has had his eyes on the Cup since his very first Warwick Rodeo in 1949.

He came so close, within a point of the win, two years running.

"In 2001 I came second in the Warwick Gold Cup, in 2002 I came second again," he said.

"In 1998 I was seventh, in 1995 I was fifth."

Gough was only a teen when he won his first campdraft in Proserpine in 1945.

At age 16 he won his first buckjump during a rodeo at Home Hill.

"I had eight Australian titles in rodeo - I won titles all over," he said.

"I won the first bronc ride at Mt Isa."

49 years ago Gough set a bronc riding record, which he believes still stands today.

"In 1956 we had to ride three horses to win the bronc ride," he said."On the first I scored 87, I scored 91 on the second and the third had never been ridden - I scored 93.

"That was the highest score ever for bronc ride on the Warwick grounds."

After dominating the Australian scene, the cowboy shifted his focus to the US.

In the 1970's he rode across the country from the Los Angeles Country Fair to a rodeo in Phoenix, Arizona.

During that time he also took up a number of other horse sports, from showjumping to western performance horses.

"I started with one sport and went to do another and another and another," he said.

"I won main western performance horses events across the country."

He also won showjumping events, including jumps at the Warwick Showgrounds.

So what does it take to be a champion?

According to Gough, it all comes down to natural aptitude.

"There are a lot of people that ride that could ride 1000 times and never win," he said.

"It's not easy."

Campdrafting is a hard, fast and dangerous game.

Gough has seen it first hand.

He's seen riders killed during the slightest fumble.

"You've concentrate, you've got to know what you're doing," he said.

"You're galloping full speed.

"If a horses front legs tangle with the beasts hind legs it's a disaster."

In his more than six decades of attending the Warwick Rodeo, Gough has seen some major changes to the sport.

From a Gold Cup field of 60 competitors to more than 600, he's seen campdrafting grow bigger and bigger and bigger.

"Back in the early days there'd be 40 horses in a draft - now you'd have 400 horses," Gough said.

"The campdraft scene has changed a lot - the cattle are faster and harder.

"Back in the day they used European breeds - now they use Brahman crosses they're fast more agile and can out run a horse no troubles."

It's not just the cattle that have changed.

"The horses are better these days - they're bred more specifically for campdraft," Gough said.

"There's so many people going now professionally."

In the old days, the Warwick Showgrounds were rough and hard, and the rodeos were run quite differently.

"Back when we started riding the committees owned their own stock," he said.

"They had their own buckjumpers.

"In those days the top 10 in each event went through the finals - these days it's the top 15."

At age 50, Gough hung up his rodeo gear after 34 years of rough riding.

But he didn't go down in dust.

"I won three steer wrestling contests in average of six seconds in 1980 at my last rodeo," he said.

Gough's talents aren't limited to the back of a horse or bull.

The gifted horseman used his hobby to drive a number of successful business ventures.

In the 1970's, Gough started making horse treadmills.

"I made the first high speed treadmill in Australia - it could do 48km/h with a horse on it," he said.

"I exported them to England, America and Ireland and in the 1980s I took some to Japan."

In 1988 the business was sold, but by that creative campdrafter was already working on his next project.

"I was the first in the world to make free working walkers for horses," he said.

"They're everywhere - Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Dubai and South Korea."

By the time he sold that business in 2004, he had exported more than 400 walkers to eight countries.

Gough also ran the first Australian Rodeo Championships on the Gold Coast in 1960 and served on the board of directors of the rodeo association at the time.

When he saddles up for stallion campdraft this morning, the veteran campdrafter knows it could be his last time at Warwick.

Reflecting on his long career, Gough doubt on whether he would be back for a 67th run at the cup.

"I'm not doing many events anymore," he said.

"Age is starting to catch up one me.

"I want to break the record, but I'm sure there isn't anybody who has been going for as long I have."



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