Sunday's Chiltern rodeo will be extra special for event president Kelvin Duke who has arena named in his honour

Flying high: Young rodeo entrants Molly Phibbs, 17, and Taila Dale, 10, with Chiltern rodeo president Kelvin Duke at the recently named arena at the town racecourse. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
Flying high: Young rodeo entrants Molly Phibbs, 17, and Taila Dale, 10, with Chiltern rodeo president Kelvin Duke at the recently named arena at the town racecourse. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

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.

Ready to roll: Barrel racer Taila Dale, 10, gets some practice in for the Chiltern rodeo aboard her mount Spot Dot Phibbs. The event is on Sunday night. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

Ready to roll: Barrel racer Taila Dale, 10, gets some practice in for the Chiltern rodeo aboard her mount Spot Dot Phibbs. The event is on Sunday night. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

“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.

Living up to the name: Molly Phibbs, 17, stirs up the ground while riding Dusty. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

Living up to the name: Molly Phibbs, 17, stirs up the ground while riding Dusty. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

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.