Unrideable bull Chainsaw was an Aussie icon

By Brent Langley
April 22 2022 - 7:00am

It's been 25 years since the great bull, Chainsaw, passed away peacefully in his paddock. At the ripe old age of 15, he was enjoying retirement from a monumental rodeo career.

Chainsaw won eight Bucking Bull of The Year awards between 1987 and 1994.

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With hundreds of cowboys attempting to make-the-eight, only eight cowboys rode him for 8 seconds during his 11-year career.

Australian bull riding icon and World Champion Troy Dunn was the only cowboy to ride Chainsaw twice, but Davey Johnston, from NSW, was the first cowboy to ride the unrideable and Australia's greatest bucking bull, at Tamworth in 1987 for 90 points.

"He was a good bull. A lot of people had tried to ride him and no one had made a successful ride on him at a rodeo," Johnston said.

"I used to watch him all the time because no one had ridden him and I tried to work him out and then I found out I'd ride him at Tamworth, which was a pretty big rodeo, always paid good, got a good crowd.

"I sort of figured on a plan on what he'd do and hope he'd do it and luckily he did. Everything I did worked; it was just lucky - more luck than good management."

But Chainsaw was like no other. Completely unpredictable, you didn't know if he was going to spin or lunge forward out of the chute to kicking all four legs off to one side where he would almost go into a barrel roll - he had an athleticism.

"He could get up high - flick his feet up higher than his backbone like a cat and still land on his feet," Johnston said.

Nobody will dispute how good Chainsaw was with an unmatched eight Bucking Bull Of The Year Awards.

They won't dispute the showmanship of the bull and the way he ran around the arena fence after throwing a luckless rider to the ground.

Chainsaw was bought by George Hempenstall out of the Homebush saleyards as a calf in the early 1980s when he was tagged with the famous tag 327 from Hempenstall after he picked the number from his letterbox.

John Condon then bought Chainsaw from Hempenstall as he left to further his rodeo career in the United States.

Rodeo great Garry McPhee became Chainsaw's stock contractor, and he trucked and promoted Chainsaw at rodeos from south of Victoria up to northern Queensland, and everywhere in between.

Chainsaw was not just a champion bucking bull but an incredible personality that after he threw another cowboy to the dirt, he would set off on a victory lap around the arena with his head held high, almost as if he was enjoying the attention of the thousands of cheering rodeo fans chanting his name.

Then he would calmly strut back to the gates and rest up in the yards behind the chutes along with the other bulls.

He was also a media personality, featuring in countless newspapers across the country, being featured on television, appearing on A Current Affair and 60 Minutes as well as countless major television news segments. He also featured in a XXXX Gold beer commercial and had songs written about him.

World champion bull rider Daryl Mills, from Canada, summed up Chainsaw perfectly in a recent interview.

"The one thing I found really unique about that bull is you could run into people from Australia that would have not have any connection to rodeo at all, and they would know of the bull called Chainsaw.

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"I just always thought that was so neat that people who knew nothing about rodeo but everybody knew about this bull.

"His recognition goes so far." Mills said.

After 25 years there has still never been a bucking bull that has reached the heights and accolades of Chainsaw and we doubt there never will be another one in the future.

So again, it's hats off to Chainsaw. A champion bull and Australian icon that will never be forgotten.

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