YOUNG farmer Kieran Davidson has captured his first Man From Snowy River Bush Festival men's challenge title to end the recent domination of the event by Tooma champion John Mitchell.
Davidson entered the final two events of the highly sought after title in third place behind Mitchell, who had won the last three challenges, and his brother and former challenge winner, David.
But on finals days in front of another massive crowd at the Corryong Recreation Reserve, Davidson climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a successful brumby catch and stock saddle buck jump.
Davidson won by 2.2 points from Jim Laverty, who returned to the Upper Murray from Western Australia for the event and also had a successful brumby catch and buck jump.
David Mitchell slipped down to seventh in the final standings.
Cootamundra's Emma O'Shea domination of the women's challenge event continued with her sixth successive win on the same horse, Hilite Dads Acres.
She won by 109 points from second place-getter Anna Paton with Christy Davidson finishing third.
Davidson is a four-time women's champion winner, but husband Kieran's previous best result was a top-10 finish last year.
"You never know what happens in the final," Kieran, 33, said..
"There are a lot of very good competitors in it, but I was lucky enough for things to fall my way.
"I was lucky with the horse I drew in the buckjump and you've got to take those lucky breaks when you can."
Davidson pocketed $20,000 for his victory, but plans to be on the tractor today sowing winter crops after a tough summer.
He is also part of an organising committee starting up a challenge at Bribbaree, near Young, at the end of August.
"We just decided with so many people in the area keen to do a challenge we will try and get one going," he said.
He purchased his horse, Edenvale Orion, from his father-in-law as a two-year-old with the gelding now six.
"We've just gelled and turned out to be best mates," he said.
"To prepare for an event like this I don't think you are ever not preparing.
"If you are out doing stock work you are always working at something to help in this event somewhere down the track."
O'Shea said the brumby catch was again a highlight.
"It is great when you do really well in it," she said.
"He is a one in a million horse for me. He was ready for the job.
"People often ask me when am I going to get a new horse, but why would I?
"You always come here with the highest expectations on yourself and just hope it all turns out in the end."
Travis Bandy won the junior event for the second successive year and hopes to step up into open ranks in 2020.
His father Scott holds the record for the most male challenges titles with five including back-to-back wins in 2013-14.
THE FINAL STANDINGS
Kieran Davidson 620.2 points
Jim Laverty - 618 Points
John Mitchell - 592 points
Morgan Webb - 566.2 points
Brad Pierce - 564.2 points
Michael Green - 553 points
David Mitchell - 551 points
Daryl Baines - 547.6 points
Scott Jones - 528.8 points
Neale Green - 465.8 points
Emma O'Shea - 559.2 points
Anna Paton - 450.4 points
Christy Davidson - 431.4 points
Travis Bandy - 594.4 points
Tom Denson - 522.4 points
Ash Dodwell - 514.8 points