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History of The Tom Quilty Gold Cup Endurance Ride


With the 160 km Tom Quilty Endurance ride commencing midnight on the 8th June in Tassie , read a quick history of the event.

Endurance riding has been an organised sport in Australia since 1966. Reports of the Tevis Cup endurance ride in the USA began reaching Australia. One person inspired by the concept of a long distance competitive horse ride was R. M. Williams, editor of Hoofs and Horns, a pioneer horse magazine in this country. An invitation was extended through the magazine for people interested in conducting Australia's own 100 miles in one day ride.

It was decided if the Americans could do it, so could the Aussies! The venue would be in the Hawkesbury district, near Sydney, New South Wales, being a relatively central, scenic location, with the support of the University of Sydney's Rural Veterinary Centre, Camden. A committee was formed to organise the first 100 mile ride.

R. M. Williams wrote to his friend Tom Quilty, a great horseman and cattleman in the Kimberly area of Western Australia. Williams asked for his support for the 100 miles ride, and Quilty donated $1000. This was used to make a gold cup, the prize for the winner of the event. This is a perpetual trophy, and the ride was named the Tom Quilty Gold Cup in his honour. The original Gold Cup now resides in the Stockman's Hall of Fame, in Longreach, Queensland.

Cash prizes were originally offered as incentive for competitors, however, at the last minute it was pointed out that local by-laws prohibited racing for money, over public roads. A meeting of riders and officials was held, and all resolved to ride for the satisfaction of simply participating, and for the honour of wearing the handsome silver Quilty buckle. The Quilty buckle is still a highly regarded prize in endurance with those who earn one treasuring it as equivalent to an Olympic Gold Medal.

The winner of the first Quilty was Gabriel Stecher, who rode his Arabian stallion ‘Shalawi' bareback the full 100 miles, plus a few more miles when he took a wrong turn! The first Quilty was declared a success, and the following day, plans were made to form an Australian Endurance Riders Association.

The sport grew over the next several years, with fifty mile rides being conducted in all the states, and the annual Tom Quilty Gold Cup 100 mile ride in NSW. Endurance riding began to be accepted as part of the horse scene, with Hoofs and Horns magazine giving the sport coverage.

The Quilty was considered as the National endurance ride, with its location being fairly central for riders, except for those in Western Australia. In 1986, a referendum of all endurance riders in Australia resulted in the decision to move the Quilty from state to state in rotation. This gave endurance riders in each of the six states to have the chance to compete in the Quilty in their home state, and not have to travel large distances to compete.

As they say the rest is history and St Helens is now to be the venue for the 2012 Tom Quilty Gold Cup! A field of entrants from all over Australia and overseas is expected to be around 300 horse and rider combinations and together with support crew, spectators, media and organizers will bring approximately 2000 people into the township for the week of the event.

Competitors will begin at Midnight and have 24 hours to complete the 160km course which is held over 5 legs with each leg returning to the showground for a thorough vet check before being allowed to continue. Each horse must then be judged "fit to continue" at the end of the distance before they are able to earn their riders the coveted Quilty Buckle.

To Complete is to Win!


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