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8 April, 2022

Juniors take up Tom Quilty challenge

One of the most iconic equestrian events in the world, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, will be held in the picturesque Warrumbungle region this July, and a group of local junior riders is busily preparing to take part.

By Supplied

The Tom Quilty is a national event where horse riders must cover 100 miles (160km) in one day.

The prestige associated with winning this event, as well as competing, is immense. It is the goal of all Australian endurance riders to attempt and be successful in this ride.

Those who manage to complete the challenge are presented with a specially crafted belt buckle Each year the Tom Quilty is held in a different state, in 2021 it was scheduled to be held at Tooraweenah in the foothills of the Warrumbungle mountains which would have been exactly 30 years since the event was held in the same location in 1991.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions there was no ride last year, but Tooraweenah will have its turn come July.

The event has captured the attention of a dedicated group of young competitors from the local region who are now training and trying to gain qualification to enter.

 Local junior rider Lara Duff has already qualified to compete on her horse Pegasus.

Riders must be 12 years old to enter which Lara will achieve just 10 weeks before the event. Having successfully completed many 80km rides, Lara qualified with one 160km ride at the Tooraweenah Tom Quilty preview event held in July 2021.

“That was a tough ride, raining and cold but my horse got me though along with encouragement from my family and friends. I can’t wait to participate in the Tom Quilty 2022, it’s very exciting and I’m so lucky to have it on home ground,” she said.

Lara follows in the footsteps of her grandfather, mother, brothers, and cousins and is thrilled to be part of such a long-standing family tradition.

Another local junior, Charlie Bonham, is no stranger to the event having successfully completed a Tom Quilty ride in 2017 at the age of 13 in Queensland.

Charlie regularly trains young Arabian horses and aims to bring home a second Tom Quilty buckle. Isabella Worner successfully completed her first 160km ride in 2021 and will team up with her mother Sara Worner to ride.

Both Isabella and Sara started endurance riding in 2015 and are active members of the club. No doubt the start of another long family tradition. Fourteen-year-old Sophia Moppett has yet to qualify for the event. To do so she must complete two 160km rides before July.

“I adore the sport and love the team that I ride along with always willing to give a helping hand to anyone. I also love the challenge to get the horses through the vet checks sound and calm. “I have learned a lot about nutrition and health for the horses. Having the Tom Quilty in Tooraweenah is a great inspiration to qualify,” she said.

The strength and resilience of the juniors who compete in this gruelling ride creates strong and independent young people who make our community proud. The strong bond between horse and rider enables both to work together to meet the challenges of the ride.

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