When we look back at the record books there’s a standout surname that repeats in the list of Australian titles for a decade from 1976 -1986 in both cowboy and cowgirl titles. That name is Morgan.
The single biggest year ever in our sport for the Morgan Family was in 1984 when Mary Morgan won a record four Australian titles; All Round, Steer Undecorating, Barrel Race and Goat Tying and in that same year her husband Glenn Morgan won the All Round Cowboy, Bareback, and Saddle Bronc titles!.
Over the next few years both continued to win multiple titles, Glenn was particularly prolific winning a total of 6 All Round, 5 Bareback and 7 Saddle Bronc titles and in 1980, 1981, 1983, and 1984 he was a Triple Crown Champion winning the All Round, Saddle Bronc and Bareback titles all three, each time in the same year.
In 2011 the Morgan’s son Luke won the first of the two Australian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider titles he held coming into this year’s NFR. The talented young cowboy had his Dad’s fast feet, toes always pointed east and west and always in time with the equine athlete he had drawn. But then he got busy building a horse training business and making a family with his beautiful wife Jodi (nee Maytom, her brother Ben the 2018 and 2019 Australian Saddle Bronc Champion).
With all that was going on in his life we didn’t see Luke in the arena for about a dozen years until the 2023 season. And just like he used to, he marked them out and took them to the buzzer, almost without exception.
Luke came into the ABCRA NFR with a $4,100 lead in the standings over fellow Tamworth cowboy Brody Cummins. With $2,700 go-round money and $5,400 aggregate money on offer, there was no guarantee that the two-time champion was going to make it three. He’d have to get it done in the National Finals Arena.
His campaign in the Whitehaven Coal Open Saddle Bronc ride got off to the perfect start. A first go round 80pt marking on Gill Bros ‘Shot Gun’ saw him win the round with Brody splitting third with a 72.50pt score on ‘Horton Valley Hustler’.
In the second go-round Luke drew the Gill Bros paint ‘Cowboy X’ and went to the buzzer for 77pts to split second in the round with Brody on board ‘Cool Waters’. Tom Knight took the round win with the high point marking of the finals, a strong 82pt score on two-time Saddle Bronc Horse of The Year ‘Moves Like Jagger’.
With that ride and score Luke had done enough to win the Australian title but could he now ‘do the double’ and pick up the ABCRA NFR Aggregate title too?
He got a good draw in the third go-round. Not the pick of the pen but Rick Wilsons paint gelding ‘Hawkeye’ was rideable and if Brody won the round, Luke needed third or better to win the aggregate. Brody nodded for the gate before Luke. He had drawn the pick of the pen, the awesome Gill Bros ‘Cajun Man’ a bronc with an exceptional back end and a smooth, rhythmic bucking action and Brody rode him the buzzer for 79.50pts.
Luke knew what he had to do and set about getting it done, his fast feet that he got from his Dad making the most of the scoring opportunity to impress the Judges and he returned to the chutes with a 73.50pt marking.
It would end up being enough by just half-a-point to claim the double!
Tom Knight followed and marked 73pts on ‘Cowboy Rose’ to split 4th place with Jayden Blacker and split runner up in the Aggregate with Brody Cummins and Brody won the third go-round and with it, the young cowboy won his first Australian title, the 2023 Rookie Saddle Bronc Rider Champion.
Congratulations to all our finalists and to our champions and a special mention to our stock contractors Wayne Fitzsimmons, Eddie Gill and Rick Wilson for providing some exceptional broncs for the boys to get on.
Photos and words Stephen Mowbray

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