Thursday, October 16, 2008

Australia: Endurance rider in Tom Quilty Cup

The Wagin Argus
16/10/2008 2:41:00 PM

photo: TROTTING TIME: Corey Lunt trotting out “Cameo Stormboy” during the pre-ride vet check at the 2008 Tom Quilty Cup National championship in Queensland.

WAGIN endurance rider Corey Lunt has just returned home from Nanango in Queensland, where he competed in the 2008 Tom Quilty Cup National Championship 160km ride, obtaining his second Quilty buckle.

The championship event travels from State to State each year, with Corey winning the junior division and his horse Assiff, receiving the best conditioned horse junior award last year when it was in Western Australia.

This year Corey and his mother Anita were offered horses to ride by former WA riders Roman and Tanya Stoffel who have relocated to Queensland.

More than 200 competitors from Australia, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, America and the United Arab Emirates started the event at 4am on Saturday with only 99 riders successfully completing the course in the allowed 24 hour period.

The course was split into six legs of distances ranging from 32km to 15km with the horses having to pass strict veterinary checks at the end of each leg before being allowed to proceed.

No longer eligible to ride in the junior division, Corey placed 38th in the middleweight division, completing in a time of 18 hours 42 minutes.

WA riders Harry O’Brien and Simon Slemint, both of Burekup, also completed the course successfully.

“The course was really hard, we were either going up or down with not much flat going at all,” Corey said.

“A lot of the course was over the same ground as the Trans Tasman last year so I had an idea of how hard it was going to be.

“The weather made it more difficult though, as it got to about 32 degrees and high humidity during the day, followed by a really big thunderstorm during the night.”

Corey was halfway up the highest peak with 15km left to go when the storm hit.

“Mum’s horse vetted out for lameness at the 120km mark so I was riding by myself at that stage, and there was that much lightning around it was like daylight and the thunder sounded like it was right on top of us,” he said.

“When it started to hail and rain I didn’t think about the cold too much, I was more worried about missing the directional markers and getting lost.

“My horse just put his head down and got on with the job, only spooking a couple of times when the thunder got really loud. He was brilliant.”

At the peak of the storm, organisers took the unprecedented steps to suspend the ride due to safety reasons.

Competitors due to go on track were held in until the storm had passed, with their ride times being adjusted accordingly.

However, riders already on the track had to keep moving and weather the conditions as best they could.

Corey said he would like thank Healthways Smarter than Smoking and Milne Feeds Team Pegasus for their continued support along with Roman and Tanya Stoffel and Wade Burgess for allowing him to ride their horse, aptly named Stormy.

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