Examiner.com.au - Full Article
9 Sep 2017, 8 a.m.
It’s midnight, but the night isn’t quiet.
Under a cold winter sky in Wirrina Cove, South Australia, a swirling mass of horses and people are preparing, lining up to start the ultimate test of equestrian endurance.
This is the Tom Quilty Gold Cup: riders and horses are faced with a gruelling 160 kilometres of challenging tracks, across all terrain, in all weather, for the ultimate prize of the Quilty trophy.
At the end of each stage, they have to go through a rigorous, impartial vetting process to ensure each horse is fit and well to continue the next.
In Australia’s outback heritage the icon of horse and rider rings through literature and culture – the Man from Snowy River, the drover and his dog, Phar Lap and Jim Pike, the yearly spectacle of racehorse and jockey striving for the Melbourne Cup.
And the Tom Quilty is made of the same stuff of legend.
The race was created in the late 1960s by RM Williams, who wrote to horseman Tom Quilty asking for support creating a long distance horse race. From that letter came an annual endurance race and the birth of an amateur sport.
To finish a Tom Quilty, regardless of placing, is to win, with just the satisfaction of gaining a highly coveted Quilty buckle.
There’s no prize money allowed in Australian endurance riding – riders take part for the love of testing themselves and their horses against their own times, against the elements, and each other.
The midnight start launches the hopes of more than 150 riders, including several international riders joining the challenge.
By daylight, in just 10 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds, Brooke Brown-Cordell and Tierview Salama become the winners of the 2017 Tom Quilty...
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