Thursday, June 09, 2005

Quilty event remains true to its origins

THE Tom Quilty Gold Cup event has proven beyond a doubt that Australian horses are as tough as any in the world, according to event patron Ron Males.

Mr Males has been involved in the cup, which is now the national endurance riding championship, since its inception 40 years ago.

He worked with R. M. Williams and Tom Quilty in setting up the inaugural ride in 1966.

R. M. Williams wanted a race to see if Australian riders and their horses were as tough as American competitors in the 100-mile Tevis Cup.

Tom Quilty put up 1000 in prize money and Mr Males organised and marked out the course.

Mr Males has since competed in 21 events and holds the record for the most consecutive Tom Quilty silver belt buckles.

They are awarded on completion of the event within 24 hours.

"It's hard to think of a highlight," Mr Males said.

"But that first race, it was out of this world.

"Racing in Australia over 160 kilometres, which is 100 miles, was just unreal.

"But we did it, we succeeded."

Sheffield is the site of this year's Tom Quilty, which begins at midnight tomorrow.

It is also the site of another of Mr Males' personal highlights.

"Eighteen years ago at Sheffield I came in second on Chase Sadaqa and we won best condition, which is as prized as winning," he said.

"I've only just arrived, but from what I've seen this year's course looks great."

VETERAN: Tom Quilty Gold Cup patron Ron Males relaxes after arriving in Sheffield yesterday. Mr Males was involved in the establishment of the event 40 years ago and has 21 Quilty silver buckles. Picture: Karleen Williams.

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