More than 100 cowboys and cowgirls saddled up for the 2023 Warrnambool Rodeo, with increased prizemoney and custom-designed awards attracting a surge in entries. Warrnambool Showgrounds committee of management secretary Jenni Strain said there were more than 130 competitors across the horse and bull events on December 2, 2023. "We normally only attract 100," she said. Ms Strain said the increased prizemoney from $3500 to $5000 for the Sam Daly Memorial Open Bull Ride, and the custom-designed Ridetuff belt buckle awards for each event could be the reasons behind the influx of entries. Mr Daly was a Cobden rider who died in 2020. She said there were 38 riders in the second division bull ride, a huge jump from the usual 12 to 15 people who entered the event. "The buckles have brought the cowgirls and boys out (to compete)," Ms Strain said. "(In the) ladies barrel race we had 26 (entrants) which usually we would have 12 to 15." She said the open bull rides were for the more experienced riders. "They still put on a bloody good show, those young bulls are actually really professional," she said. "Ron (Woodall, who provides the bulls) said he can walk through to them in the paddock and scratch them behind the ears but as soon they're on the truck and on the rodeo arena they know it's game on." Ms Strain said she believed the rodeo, which attracted more than 4100 spectators this year, was popular in Warrnambool because of the camaraderie between the riders. The rodeo featured an array of junior and senior events including bull riding, saddle bronc bareback and barrel races. The Little Miss Cowgirl and Master Cowboy competition for children under eight was also held.