Emma Thompson – Triple Crown

Coonabarabran cowgirl Emma Thompson is just the second cowgirl in the history of the ABCRA to wear the #1 back number at the National Finals Rodeo. She joins legendary cowgirl Nichole Fitzpatrick who has achieved that feat a remarkable four times so far in her long and illustrious rodeo career.

Emma came into the 2023 ABCRA NFR holding the lead for two titles, the Pryde’s EasiFeed Ladies Barrel Race in which she had amassed a season earnings record of $25,941.34 and an unassailable lead in the most coveted one of all, that of Australian All Round Champion Cowgirl where no other cowgirl could accumulate enough points, even with a perfect finals campaign to head her off.

But there was a third title that she could win too if she had a solid finals, that of Circle L Australia Steer Undecorating Champion. In this event she and ‘Eddie’ were $1512.90 dollars behind 3-time Australian champion and the defending ABCRA NFR aggregate champion Sallie Nichols. Sallie won all three go-rounds at the last NFR and was keen to do the same AND hopefully take the Australian title as well. She was in a good position but things would have to go right for her in Tamworth.

Both these cowgirls are super competitive and you have to keep in mind you are dealing with a horse with a brain, a head of stock with a mind of its own and a cowgirl with hopes and dreams and it’s the hardest thing to get the stars to align!

But to win Sallie would have to do it on a borrowed horse because her ‘Red’ sustained an injury two weeks before finals and wouldn’t be able to run. Great mate Jaemi lee Krause sent her ‘Bucky’ down from QLD for Sallie to run on.

This was such a great event to watch unfold.

First go-round both cowgirls missed. Second go-round Emma won the round and Sallie missed out on a place. For the third go-round the maths was simple. Sallie had to win and Emma had to miss out on any placing and if Emma did miss Sallie had to win in a time faster time than Emma had run for her win the night before.

No pressure!

The Willow Tree cowgirl, hazed by her new husband Heath didn’t hold back. She and ‘Bucky’ hit the turbo boost and stopped the clock in a new arena record time of 1.53 secs! Unfortunately for Sallie, Emma in the run immediately before her had put down a 2.29 sec run which ended up being enough to see them secure the fifth place in the round and thereby giving them the all-important aggregate money and with it the Australian Steer Undecorating title and the ABCRA NFR Aggregate Steer Undecorating title!

Three Australian titles and an Aggregate title in one NFR!

That’s an impressive haul for a cowgirl who is only 6 years into her rodeo career and at only her second NFR.
Emma won her first Rookie title in 2018 winning the Rookie Barrel Race on ‘Eddie’ and backed it up in 2022 winning the Rookie Steer Undecorator title off this superstar hen 14yo gelding, what a difference 12 months makes!

In winning a triple crown (All Round Cowgirl plus two other event titles) Emma joins an elite group of champions from our sport.
The most titles ever won by a cowgirl in a single year was by Mary Morgan back in 1984 when she won All Round, Steer Undecorating, Barrel Race and Goat Tying. That year, her husband Glenn Morgan won the All Round Cowboy, Bareback and Saddle Bronc Australian titles!

Other triple crown winners include:
Anne Stanborough in 1987, All Round, Barrel Race and Steer Undecorator, Marie Edwards (now Marie Crisp), in 1994, All Round, Barrel Race, Breakaway Roper, Nichole Fitzpatrick in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017 with All Round, Steer Undecorator, Breakaway Roper titles and again in 2016 but this time All Round, Barrel Race and Steer Undecorator titles.
And before this year, Anna Crisp was the last one to join her Mum, Marie Edwards (now Crisp) on the illustrious list of triple crown winners when she won the All Round, Steer Undecorator and Breakaway Roper titles.

Emma and ‘Eddie’, congratulations, what an extra-ordinary year you both have had.
We can’t wait to see you go-round again and return to Tamworth in 2025 to defend your Triple Crown titles.
Photos and words Stephen Mowbray

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