There’s a new king atop the mountain horse racing world.
Roger William, on Sunday at the Redstone Rodeo, amassed enough points to defend his title from last year and be crowned the first ever King of the Hill mountain racing champion.
“It worked out again,” William said with a chuckle.
William won this year’s overall title at the Williams Lake Stampede mountain race and parlayed that with another win at the Nemiah Valley Rodeo before racing Saturday and Sunday last weekend to finish off the three-race series.
“At Redstone I didn’t have too much luck,” he said, noting he finished fifth Saturday and sixth Sunday. “I had a bad start both days and I didn’t place too well, but all in all it was good.”
William’s points totalled throughout the season, 197, were good enough to put him 12 points ahead of second-place finisher Patrick McLeod (185). Riders get 40 points for a first place finish, 30 points for a second place finish, 20 points for a third place finish, and so on.
Third place overall went to Darren Setah (139), fourth place was Douglas Hennigar (80) and fifth place was Conway Lulua (70).
William credits the work of his horse, a half-wild gelding named Nilin — which means flow in Chilcotin — for helping him win back-to-back titles.
“He’s not a very big horse,” William said. “He’s 10 years old and this is his fourth year racing. Since the series started we’ve raced a total of eight races and he leads in all Stampede races and championships.
“He’s quite a little horse.”
He said keeping Nilin healthy and in shape is one of the key components to attacking the mountain race.
“You need to make sure you feed it a certain way,” he said. “It’s quite a balance to overexercise or underexercise your horse and each race is different.
“You almost have to go day by day, race by race and you just prepare for the weekend and make sure your horse is in good condition, along with yourself.”
A new title presented at this year’s rodeo season, the King of the Hill was derived from the Harry Setah Xinli, which was presented from 2010 to 2012.
William said Setah’s family decided they wanted to have the award retired this year so a new championship was created.
“This was initiated from the leadership and the family back in 2009 when Harry Setah passed away,” William said.
“He was our wild horse ranger and parks ranger for Nemiah, and he used to compete in all the races, so we called it the Harry Setah Xinli for the first three years.”
William said moving forward he has his sights set on a third mountain race championship for next year and said the camaraderie between all the mountain race riders is what keeps him competing in the sport.
“It’s quite a thing,” he said. “There’s lots of respect there for all the riders, especially the young ones coming up. We’ve got quite a few from Nemiah still racing, too.
“We all look out for each other.”