Tom Quilty Gold Cup held this week­end

Imbil plays host to the ul­ti­mate test of en­durance

The Western Star - - Rural Weekly - Peter Hall [email protected]­ral­

AUS­TRALIA’S most pres­ti­gious en­durance horse event, so tough it car­ries the motto “to com­plete is to win”, is about to gal­lop into the Sunshine Coast’s back­yard.

The Tom Quilty Gold Cup, an epic 24-hour chal­lenge that cov­ers 160km, is steeped in his­tory, es­tab­lished in 1966 by Erica and RM Williams, who loved long-dis­tance rid­ing and Ara­bian horses.

It returns to Queens­land for the first time in six years and will be run in the Mary Valley at Imbil, start­ing mid­night Fri­day.

More than 310 rid­ers and 2000 sup­port­ers will at­tend, some from as far away as the US, Canada, Es­to­nia and Ja­pan.

The head­quar­ters for the event will be Stir­ling’s Cross­ing Eques­trian Com­plex, where owner Matthew Sam­ple is a reg­u­lar en­trant and won the event in 2009.

The fam­ily has an im­pres­sive his­tory in en­durance events, with Matthew, his brother Brook and their fa­ther Bob, hav­ing col­lected 30 “buck­les” be­tween them for suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing the Tom Quilty.

This year’s event will be ex­tra spe­cial with Brook’s sons Matthew, 15, and Zac, 12, tak­ing part for the first time.

Zac will be the youngest head­ing into the Imbil State For­est at mid­night with his head­light and horse.

The old­est will be Si­mon Bain, 77, of Mur­rum­bat­e­man, NSW.

Rid­ers get 24 hours to com­plete the 160km (100 miles when it be­gan), with the win­ners ex­pected to cover it in about 10 hours.

The wel­fare of horses is a pri­or­ity and more than 20 vets check the run­ners be­fore, dur­ing and after the chal­lenge.

Matthew Sam­ple said the event was steeped in his­tory and recog­nised in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Mr Sam­ple said it would be a coup for the re­gion and Queens­land to host what would be one of the big­gest Tom Quiltys held to date.

“En­durance rid­ing cre­ates the most in­cred­i­ble bond be­tween horse and rider and when par­tic­i­pants set off into the for­est in the mid­dle of the night, the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment is pal­pa­ble,” he said.

The orig­i­nal Gold Cup, the funds for which were do­nated by RM Wil­liam’s friend Tom Quilty, has pride of place in the Stock­man’s Hall of Fame in Lon­greach.

En­durance rid­ing in

Aus­tralia dates back to the early-1900s when it was a test for cavalry mounts.

Kim Moir, sec­re­tary of the Aus­tralian En­durance Rid­ers As­so­ci­a­tion said en­durance horses could sell for tens of thou­sands of dol­lars, but most rid­ers would not sell them.

“Given the longevity of horses in the sport, they can com­pete on the same horse for up­wards of 15 years,” she said.

“Win­ning a ti­tle like the Tom Quilty Gold Cup cer­tainly puts the horse and the breeder’s sta­ble on the in­ter­na­tional stage. The horse’s lin­eage and track record con­trib­ute to how much a horse would be worth.

“But for most of our rid­ers, it’s about the sat­is­fac­tion of win­ning the most pres­ti­gious award in en­durance.”


SAMPLING THE EVENT: Zac, 12, and Matthew Sam­ple, 15, will try to em­u­late their fa­ther’s win­ning ways in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup this week­end.

The Tom Quilty Cup, named after R.M. Wil­liam’s close friend Tom Quilty.


Jen­nifer Caslick of NSW.

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