02 Jun, 2010
IN 1966, 26 riders began the first Tom Quilty 160-kilometre endurance ride on a course west of Sydney.
And in 2012 it will be St Helens turn to host the event, with more than 300 riders expected to take part.
The Portland Endurance Riders Club will host the event in two years time and preparations began last weekend with a mock Tom Quilty.
"The club decided it would be a good chance for the endurance riders from around the state to get together for a small competition," event secretary Penny Barns said.
"The main aim of the event is to mark out the course in preparations for the 2012 ride."
The event was the brainchild of R.M. Williams, who had an idea to ride his horse 160 kilometres in one day.
He convinced his friend Tom Quilty, a Kimberley cattleman and renowned horseman, to donate $1000 to make a gold cup, which is now known as the Tom Quilty Gold Cup.
Each year, a field of more than 250 endurance rider's take to the course.
Ms Barns said that only a handful of elite equine athletes are ever in contention to win the gold cup.
"For most it is simply the challenge, complete the ride and win one of the famous Quilty Buckles," she said.
More than 300 riders were expected to enter the state for the event, which Ms Barns said would be great for St Helens.
"The event has never been held in St Helens before and we are very excited to be hosting it in two years time," she said.