Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Australia: Riders from all over head here

GYMPIE region endurance riders can look forward to a big season with State Championships at Imbil this weekend and the prestigious Tom Quilty Gold Cup in Nanango in two months time.

And this weekend's riders can expect a more interesting event, with recent rain creating many more flowing creek crossings than is usually the case.

After overcoming the effects of last year's equine influenza outbreak, more than 100 of Australia's best riders will assemble at Imbil Showgrounds on Saturday to compete in the 2008 State Endurance Riding Championships.

Event publicist, Peter Hennessy said the event would be held over "a spectacular 160km course through the Imbil and Kenilworth State Forests."

"It is a test for both horses and riders to achieve this feat in less than 24 hours," he said.

"Horses are subject to rigorous veterinary checks every 20km approximately and any sign of lameness or metabolic disorder will immediately disqualify the competitor."

Promising many excellent photographic vantage points for spectators, he said the course would be "even more interesting this year, as there will be many flowing creek crossings."

Mr Hennessy said organisers were anticipating the winner would cross the line about 4pm Saturday, after a midnight start on Friday.

And, in September, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup is expected to draw competitors internationally, as well as from all over Australia.

The major endurance ride will be held in Nanango on September 19 to 21.

"Considered one of the most challenging and competitive horse events in the world, the 'Quilty' attracts champion riders from all over," publicist Pauline Clayton said yesterday.

"Last year, the King of Malaysia was one of the competitors at the Nanango International Endurance event," she said. The ride is a brainchild of outback legend RM Williams and now attracts up to 250 of the world's finest riders.

Ms Clayton said that with friends, buyers, vet teams and officials, a crowd of more than 1000 is expected, with many camping out at the showgrounds.

"Despite metrics, the original idea of riding a horse 100 miles in a day has held true and the course is now 160km through the hilly terrain of the East Nanango State Forest in the South Burnett region," she said.

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