Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Australia: The Tom Quilty: Cardinia hosts legendary horse race

By Melissa Grant

17th September 2009

Tom Quilty Gold Cup event organisers are: Alex Enticknap, Sandra Feil, Sue Cousin, MartinDeGroot, LissyVerity, Cardinia Shire mayor Bill Pearson and Jane McLaughlin.

A civic reception was held in Pakenham on Tuesday night as the official countdown to one of the world's most prestigious horse endurance rides began.

About 200 competitors are expected to saddle up for the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, a 160km ride, at midnight this Friday.

The course is based at the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre, and includes the surrounds of the Bunyip State Park while traversing private land, bush tracks and all-weather roads.

It is the first time that the world famous event will be held in Victoria.

Event organiser Lissy Verity said a hard working committee had been preparing for the event for almost three years and had surpassed many hurdles along the way.

The cup, which was to be held last October, was postponed after the Equine Influenza outbreak. Then, there was a recession and the Bunyip Ridge Bushfire, which devastated the Bunyip State Park.

Cardinia Shire mayor Bill Pearson said he was eagerly awaiting the event and paid tribute to those who had brought it to fruition.

"This race is the stuff legends are made of," he said at the civic reception, held at the Cardinia Cultural Centre. Riders and support crews from across Australia and from overseas countries, including Malaysia and Russia, will converge on the Shire for the ride, which winds up on Sunday.

Cardinia Shire chief executiveGarry McQuillan said the event was expected to inject $800,000 to $1 million into the local economy. Residents wanting to see the start of the ride are advised to be at the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre, in Sanders Road, Tonimbuk, by 11pm on Friday as road blocks will be in place after that time.

A public viewing point will be set up on Camp Road for people wanting to view the action over the weekend.

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