Youth rid­ers tackle 160km on horses

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

A WORLD­WIDE field of com­peti­tors, some as young as 11 years old, will take on the 2018 Queens­land En­durance Rid­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (QERA) State Cham­pi­onships at Im­bil over July 13-15.

The event has at­tracted rid­ers from as far afield as Scot­land and Ja­pan in the 180 strong rider con­tin­gent tack­ling the Stir­ling’s Cross­ing Eques­trian Com­plex course.

Hosted by Stir­ling’s Cross­ing En­durance Club, the event is ex­pected to bring more than 600 peo­ple, in­clud­ing rid­ers and their sup­port crews, to the Mary Val­ley district as the rid­ers take on the di­verse forestry ter­rain around the com­plex over 80km and 160km dis­tances.

Event host and owner of Stir­ling’s Cross­ing Eques­trian Com­plex, Matthew Sam­ple, said those tack­ling the chal­leng­ing 160km ride would set off at mid­night on Fri­day with many rid­ing most of Satur­day to com­plete within the 24 hour cut-off time.

“There’s a rea­son why our motto in en­durance rid­ing is ‘to com­plete is to win’ as even those who take out the cham­pi­onships will spend at least ten hours in the sad­dle to com­plete the 160km ride,” Mr Sam­ple said.

“Any­one who has not yet com­pleted this dis­tance can use this ride as an op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for next year’s pres­ti­gious Tom Quilty Gold Cup which will be hosted at the Stir­ling’s Cross­ing Eques­trian Com­plex in 2019.

“All rid­ers must have com­pleted a 160km to par­tic­i­pate in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup and as there aren’t many of these rides on the an­nual calendar, the state cham­pi­onships is a per­fect op­por­tu­nity.”

Stir­ling’s Cross­ing En­durance Club pres­i­dent Kim Moir said among the first-timers were sev­eral eleven-year-olds look­ing to qual­ify now in prepa­ra­tion for the 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup.

“It’s a real com­ing of age for our young rid­ers to tackle a 160km, par­tic­u­larly when it’s an op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for the sport’s most pres­ti­gious ride,” Ms Moir said.

“These kids have com­pleted 80km and 120km rides but a 160km ride re­quires a whole new set of skills and in­cred­i­ble com­mit­ment, so there will be a high level of ex­cite­ment for both horse and rider which re­ally adds to the en­ergy of the event.

“En­durance rid­ers have the ut­most re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for their horses as the sport is only suited to horses that have ex­cep­tional ath­leti­cism, in­tu­ition, in­tel­li­gence and a very com­pet­i­tive na­ture.

“The ride course sees rid­ers re­turn to the com­plex for vet­ting ev­ery 30-40 kilo­me­tres so vets can check on the horses’ well-be­ing and en­sure they are in a good con­di­tion be­fore they set off on their next leg.”

Mr Sam­ple said the course for the QERA State Cham­pi­onships was very sim­i­lar to that for next year’s Tom Quilty Gold Cup so this event pro­vided an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for all rid­ers to get a feel for the ter­rain.

“At Stir­ling’s Cross­ing Eques­trian Com­plex we are lucky to have unique trails through the Im­bil State For­est; camp­ing on-site for rid­ers, their teams and their horses and fa­cil­i­ties un­matched at any other en­durance venue so these events are al­ways a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence for the whole fam­ily.” The event is open to the pub­lic. For more, visit www.stir­lingscross­ing en­durance.asn.au.

PHOTO: SARAH SUL­LI­VAN PHOTOGRAPHY

YOUNG ENDURO: Eleven-year-old Noah Hoog­land, on Steel Poppy Hot Choco­late, will com­pete in a 160km event for the first time at the QERA State Cham­pi­onships.

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