Tom Quilty gets the go-ahead for 2021

Tom Quilty gets the go-ahead for 2021

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Kirsten Melis, riding Woodybrook Houdini and John Anderson, riding Ruoak Wholly Smoke are looking forward to the Tom Quilty event in Collie in 2021. Photos by Down Under Images.

Kirsten Melis, riding Woodybrook Houdini and John Anderson, riding Ruoak Wholly Smoke are looking forward to the Tom Quilty event in Collie in 2021. Photos by Down Under Images.

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It is with great disappointment and regret that the Tom Quilty endurance horse ride, due to be held in Collie in September, is to be postponed due to the repercussions of COVID-19.

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NO matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.

It is with great disappointment and regret that the Tom Quilty endurance horse ride, due to be held in Collie in September, is to be postponed due to the repercussions of COVID-19.

The good news is that following two months of negotiation, the ride will be held on October 1-3, 2021, at Collie.

New South Wales was due to hold the event next and had had significant preparations in place - that event will now be held in 2022.

Endurance competition is another world, where teenager and parents train and ride together, where Johnny straps for mum this week and mum straps for Johnny the next.

Endurance families are quite the norm and it's a pretty good part of the horse-world to grow up in.

There are many variables involved in the preparation of a ride.

Training and feeding to the everyday good health and care of the horse, boots and shoeing, rider fitness and the list goes on.

There is also the right combination of good management, good luck and natural talent prevailing on the day.

The 25 people on the Quilty committee have many years of experience with running rides and Quilties.

They have been working extremely hard over the past two years to present a memorable event in WA, with monthly meetings being part of a daunting task to piece everything together.

Mother and daughter Anna and Ashleigh Erickson, from Narrogin, enjoying the Collie River crossing. Ashleigh was the first junior in the 80 kilometre event held from the Collie racecourse on August 8, 2020.

Mother and daughter Anna and Ashleigh Erickson, from Narrogin, enjoying the Collie River crossing. Ashleigh was the first junior in the 80 kilometre event held from the Collie racecourse on August 8, 2020.

It will be the 55th running of the Tom Quilty and the sixth time WA has hosted the event.

The ride will be run from the Collie racecourse which has only one race meet a year in October which is held on the same day as the Cox Plate.

It's very much a picnic race meet with a gathering of roughly 2000 people.

The racecourse has been used as a ride base for many major rides over the years, which gives organisers an intimate knowledge of the requirements and logistics of the venue, along with the many surrounding scenic trails.

The valley's forests, sparkling waterways, scenic trails and picturesque farmland will make for a varying and challenging course.

Those who are passionate about this sport will travel to compete in a handful of iconic rides around the world and the Tom Quilty is one of them, along with the Tevis Cup held annually in California.

The Tom Quilty ride was inspired by RM and Erica Williams to create the Tom Quilty Gold Cup which has challenged so many riders to compete for the coveted Quilty silver buckle.

RM Williams approached Kimberley cattleman Tom Quilty about running the ride in 1966 and Mr Quilty donated $1000 which paid for the original gold cup which still has pride of place in the Stockmans Hall of Fame in Longreach, Queensland.

The ride begins at midnight on Friday night, sometimes with just a slither of a moon.

It's an amazing adrenaline rush to take to the often unfamiliar tracks with our amazing athletes who are so willing to look after us every step of the way.

Riders ride the event over five legs to return each time to the racecourse to be deemed fit by the veterinary panel to continue the ride.

In the sport of endurance riding the welfare of the horse is paramount.

The official motto "to complete is to win" demonstrates the high priority of horse health.

The horse must pass all of the veterinary check points including the check at the end of the ride.

The criteria for this is the same following each leg.

The horse must not only be sound and metabolically stable, in the vets' opinion it must be fit to continue, even at the finish line.

The riders have 24 hours to complete the entire 160km course.

On the Sunday morning horses are again saddled to present for the best conditioned award which is awarded for each ride division and chosen from a metabolic criteria, in hand run and finally a ridden workout.

The Pat Slater, Newbridge and Shareym trophies are also awarded.

To qualify for the ride the rider has to have completed one ride of a distance of 160km (one hundred miles) and the horse a total of three 80km rides over a set period.

Collie is proud to be hosting the event and the Collie Shire and local community have been rallying to the cause.

The ride base has undergone extensive improvements to infrastructure and facilities have been a work in progress.

The venue will offer first-class facilities with ample room for camping and good provision for vetting and strapping.

WAERA (Western Australia Endurance Riding Association) conducted the 2019 State Championships in September at the Collie racecourse ride base and endeavoured to simulate the conditions of the Tom Quilty 2020 as closely as possible.

There was a lot of positive feedback.

The WA Tom Quilty is running comfortably within its now extended time-frame.

Local Collie community sponsors have been secured, the course has been analysed following last year's State Championship ride of 160km and two legs have been revised, yet to be tested.

The committee is planning an innovative format on Sunday following the ride which is to include a sit down lunch and will incorporate presentations and speeches.

The Sunday evening will be reserved for a live band which always creates a fun-filled atmosphere with lots of dancing.

The Quilty family parts company the following day as interstaters pack to head home.

It can be a sad time as new friends have been made and old friends know they can catch up where they left off the following year.

Merchandise has been on sale for some time with polo shirts and caps available, along with an eye-catching souvenir rug.

The lightweight rug designed by Aricon features a stunning blue to navy gradient complete with the Tom Quilty logo and horse artwork to match the polo shirt.

Rugs can be purchased by anyone irrespective of entry or completion and can be customised with the riders and horses' names.

Facebook and the website will be the primary means of communicating to the competitors and the public leading up to the event.

More than 100 competitors are expected to compete including international, interstate and local riders.

WA has a gritty bunch of riders with a great dedication to the sport.

With many quiet achievers 75 WA riders are qualified to ride in the Quilty and of these some will undoubtedly be keenly competitive.

The 2019 ride season held testament to this with several WA horses accomplishing amazing distance records, three topping the AERA (Australian Endurance Riding Association ) national awards.

The Tom Quilty committee thanks the Collie Shire for its continued support during this time of some adversity.

It also thanked sponsors and the Collie community members for their patience and understanding.

Rest assure the spirit of endurance riding will live on and the Quilty will come around again.

  • More information on endurance riding in WA go to: waera.asn.au or tomquilty2020.com
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