KNOWING his beloved Chiltern rodeo is looming has been an ideal tonic for Kelvin Duke as he fights cancer.
“It’s given me something to think about and I wanted to be in better shape for the rodeo and I am,” he said while preparing for the event that will be held in the newly-named K Duke Arena on Sunday night.
The Chiltern rodeo president has been undergoing immunotherapy for kidney and liver cancer in recent weeks and it has left him feeling more chipper than the chemotherapy he previously had.
“I’ve had health dramas but the naming of the arena and life membership has lifted my spirits,” Mr Duke said.
“It just gives me hope to see the rodeo still going and young ones coming up.”
Mr Duke delights in the talents of Chiltern’s own Taila Dale, 10, and the Phibbs siblings Molly and Tom.
That trio will be joined by more than 230 other entrants for Sunday’s event which forms part of a $100,000 tri-series with rodeos at Kyabram and Merrijig on the preceding nights.
In addition to competing in the barrel racing, South Australian Dakota Michaelis will be promoting her status as Miss Rodeo Australia at Chiltern.
The epilepsy charity supporter was crowned in January in Queensland and her duties include encouraging more rodeo participants.
“I will be stressing that we care for the animals even more than we care for ourselves; we treat our horses as best friends,” she told Queensland Country Life.
The rodeo at the Chiltern racecourse reserve runs 6pm to 10pm Sunday with gates open from 2pm.