Originally written by DEAN MILLARD
FORMER Australian bull riding champion and current Pro Tour champion Gavin “Jack” Woodall will saddle up for the final time at the Dartmoor Chute Out on Saturday after 30 years in the sport.
Woodall will retire in the sort of form befitting someone of his credentials and reputation in the sport, being not only the current Pro Tour champion bull rider but also the RAS champion bull rider and the Victorian champion bull rider. Woodall has collected an impressive 43 championship buckles, including five Southern Cross Titles, two RAS titles, three Pro Tour Championships, three South Australian Championships and the Australian Title in a career that has taken him all around Australia and overseas. Amazingly, since winning the Rookie of the Year in 1986 at 18 years of age Woodall has only missed the National Finals once, an incredible testament to his consistency and durability in a sport that can be quite unforgiving. Woodall’s formal introduction to the sport came in 1976 when he saddled up for his first poddy calf ride. He said given he had spent so long in the sport he felt he had had a terrific run with injuries. “I have had them (injuries) but I have been pretty lucky I reckon,” Woodall said. “I lot of other people have been put out of the sport a lot earlier than me, I have probably got an extra five or six years compared to some of the other guys I have rode with over the years.” Despite this he now felt the time was right to walk away. “Your body lets you know in the end. “It doesn’t mend as good as what it used to. “It is time to hop out mate.” Woodall will be out to defend his crown one last time as the reigning Dartmoor Chute Out champion tomorrow night. His plight to finish on a high note was helped by the draw, with Woodall drawing Santa Clause, a renowned high scoring bull. Woodall will be hoping Santa Clause can deliver eight seconds of fury on the night, with the bull’s performance just as important as the rider’s. Woodall said he was confident the beast would not let him down. “If I get my job done, I am most definitely a shot. “He is a bull you can get high 80 and 90s on, so he is definitely a really good bull to have. “He bucks.” Woodall has ridden some of the best bulls in Australia in his time and had no hesitation in naming the Iceman best he had saddled up on. “Iceman, definitely, in 95 at Hamilton. “There have been a lot of really good bulls about though. “Bambi, back in the 80s, Chainsaw, Evil Dead, there are oodles of them, but they are some of the ones that stand out.” With the Woodall name synonymous will bull riding in Australia, Gavin was destined to take on the challenge. He said he had never really thought about whether or not to take up the sport as a youngster, it had always just seemed the natural thing to do. “Yeah, you grew up with them so it just came naturally I suppose to just get on and do it.” Having spent virtually his entire life in the saddle on beasts 10 times his size, it is no surprise that Woodall will not depart from the sport completely after tomorrow night. He said he would still be involved with helping his father, Ron, in running his rodeos, whilst also investing more time in his own yard building business. Many high profile members of the sport are expected to show respect for Woodall by being making the trip to Dartmoor to see the retiring champion’s last ride, with Australian Bull Fighting Champion Tom Wreford on hand to protect Woodall and the other riders should anything go wrong. Woodall said the sport had been good to him over the years, allowing him to see the world while making a living. “It has been a good life style for me, I have got to travel everywhere, overseas and all around Australia. “I have been to America three times and then went to Brazil. “I have had a good look about. “It is a sport where you can have a look about and still be winning money as you go along.”