The famous Endurance Ride of Australia was started almost 50 years ago by cattleman Tom Quilty and his friend and boot maker, RM Williams.
13 October, 2014, Shire of Wagin, Australia ~ On 3 October the Western Australian Endurance Riders Association (WAERA) and the Shire of Wagin put on a fantastic weekend for all those who dream of riding in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup event. With 100 miles of the most beautiful countryside in the Great Southern of *Western Australia (WA) on show, competitors from all over Australia rose to the challenge.
Photo: Jessica Langridge and Tarrangowner Crescendo are awarded the TQ Gold Cup by Wagin Shire President, Phillip Bight
It Was A Dark And Foggy Night
As usual, the event started under the darkness of midnight. A fog blanketed the grounds of Matera Oval, leaving 102 riders to turn on their headlamps, warm up their mounts and head out into the night.
The early hours of the morning saw a number of riderless horses collected along the tracks. A few riders gritted their teeth and breathed through the pain after taking a tumble, gathered their courage and remounted. Strappers (crew) remained primed at base camp, ready and waiting for their horse and rider team to return safely at the end of each leg. First back to camp was a Western Australia competitor, Frances Overheu riding Poseidon Moon, completing the 1st leg of 40km in 2hrs 2min 51secs.
Rider placing continued to change over the course of the dawning light and eventually Jessica Langridge from QLD, representing the Sample Endurance Team, was seated in front after the 3rd leg, riding Tarrangower Crescendo. By Saturday at 10 am, although the climate had offered the riders a glorious day to compete, 31 horses had already been vetted out, most due to lameness. This was more than expected at this point by the WA Endurance Riders Association. It appeared the gradual inclines of the course, despite the track appearing of flat ground had caught quite a few riders unaware. It was a fair course, riders had been informed at pre-ride to ride to the conditions and not to underestimate the terrain. It was to be a harrowing event for many with the overall completion of only 36 riders from a total 102 that started out at midnight.
Tom Quilty Gold Cup is contested over 100 miles by varied riders; weight divisions are part of the competition process and contribute to dividing up the success of so many riders and horses. Line honours is naturally awarded to whoever crosses the finish line first and passes a strict vet regime. This can be achieved by a rider from any division. The esteemed accolade of winning the Tom Quilty Gold Cup is awarded to the first, successful Heavyweight or Middleweight rider across the line, again, only with completion of a clean bill of health from the vets.
Photo:Kristie Taprell, rider of over 15,000kms, aboard Castlebar Belair at their Best Conditioned workout, after 100 mile ride
The Tom Quilty Gold Cup Finish
And so when it all came down the finish line, it was Jessica Langridge, competing in the middleweight division aboard Tarrangower Crescendo aka Saladin (18-year-old gelding out of Minkott Crystal Belle by Arabian Park Saiyid) that crossed in 1st position in 9hrs 13mins 25secs, earning Jessica her first Tom Quilty Gold Cup win. With this ride Saladin now has just shy of contesting 4000kms in his endurance career.
A Proper Birthday Present
In 2013 Brookleigh Excalibur won the event in 9 hours 14 minutes with Brook Sample at the helm. At the prize presentations Jessica noted that it was her fiancé Matthew Sample’s birthday in a couple of days and she had asked him what he would like for his birthday – he had said he would just like her to win the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, which she did.
It was NSW rider Ben Hudson on Oso Edith, (7-year-old mare out of Kelkette Park Silver Eyre by Kelkette Park Debonair) finishing in the pursuing time of 9hrs 15min 11secs, leaving only just under 2mins between 1st and 2nd. Ben and Edith put in a fantastic effort to stay so close and work so hard to accomplish a great ride amongst so many elite in the sport. A bright future for this young rider and horse lay ahead.
A competitor who travelled all the way from Tasmania, Debbie Gull riding Lauralyn Notorious (10-year-old gelding out of Lauralyn Music by Princeton, a son of the worldly respected Arabian Park Egyptian Magnetic), came across the line in 9hrs 35mins 47secs. Debbie mentioned that the adventure across Australia to WA was well worth it to enjoy the beautiful weather compared to cold, rainy and windy conditions she was used to.
Photo: WA Michael Blight & Arabika Beau, warming up before race start
After nervously awaiting the final vet checks and been given an all clear of health, heart and gait, the supporting teams for all 3 riders let out a sign of relieve that their 100 miles was conquered.
1. Jessica Langridge on Tarrangower Crescendo – 9:13:25
2. Ben Hudson on Oso Edith – 9:15:11
3. Debbie Gull on Lauralyn Notorious – 9:35:47
Another very well-respected team who also shared in a successful weekend for their ambassadors, Castlebar Endurance was Victorian rider, Kristie Taprell who competed on Castlebar Belair, completing their 100 miles campaign in 10hrs 7mins 45secs. In true endurance spirit, Meg Wade also made the journey across the Nullabor to attend our 2014 event, showing her continual commitment and passion to this sport. Kristie and Castlebar Belair later won the Best Condition (BC) for their weight division, adding more success to their trip west.
Western Australia representatives were strong. Frances Overheu finishing in 7 position overallin 11hrs 25mins 46secs riding her trusted steed Poseidon Moon aka Homer gave them a well-earned Tom Quilty Buckle. Homer and Frances have now completed over 8000km, riding endurance together since 2005. Deb Jewell and her mount Balgownie Berk concluded their efforts in 20hrs 3mins 31secs, earning them their 2nd Tom Quilty Buckle, and the admiration of so many fans since Berk was the oldest horse competing the 100 miles in 2014 at the ripe age of 25 years.
Photo: WA Sarah Connor and strapper Skye Fondacaro heading to vet ring for assessment
Best Conditioned Heavyweight: Alan MacKinder and Jezabelle Sweet Dreams
Best Conditioned Middleweight: Kristie Taprell and Castlebar Belair
Best Conditioned Lightweight: Dianne Walsh and Razorback Silver Wings
Best Conditioned Junior: Colleen Krahnen and Kalkadoon Viva
Pat Slater Award: Simone Krahnen and Kalkadoon Zorro
*Western Australia is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia.
~ Report and photos thanks to Vicki Portelli, WAERA