21 July, 2022
Toora juniors top 56th Tom Quilty
Amongst the bogged horse floats and muddy tracks, the 2022 Tom Quilty Endurance Ride Gold Cup was hosted by Tooraweenah for the first time in 31 years, and the town was buzzing.
The showground was alive with over
190 riders, their horses, vets, support teams,
strappers, and everyone you can imagine,
ready for riders to take part in the 24-hour,
Four juniors from Tooraweenah took to
the track, with two of them coming out on
top. 12-year-old Lara Duff and 16-year-old
Charlie Bonham crossed the finish line
together as first juniors, with a time of 12
hours and 36 minutes.
“It feels pretty good, for my first Tom
Quilty event getting first junior and fittest
horse,” said Lara.
“That means my horse was in the best
condition, so you win that based on what
your horse looks like after 160 kilometres,
who’s looks the best and is the least tired.”
“I’m pretty stoked,” said Charlie.
“I’m very pleased with that outcome,
this is my second Tom Quilty. I’m pretty
Junior Isabella Worner said that
although they had all completed 160-kilometre
endurance rides before, the Tom
Quilty was quite different.
“The track was
definitely harder than many other tracks
around here, it was really wet and boggy
from all the rain,” she said.
“I think it was just really boggy and a lot
harder on the longer legs as well,” said
junior Sophia Moppett.
A ride as long as 160 kilometres is not
only physically strenuous, but can pose a
huge challenge mentally. When asked what
goes through their mind on these long rides,
most of the juniors explained that the focus
on their horse’s wellbeing keeps them
“What goes through your mind is just
taking care of your horse, making sure
you’re getting along alright, concentrating,
and not falling asleep, because you’ve been
up for a long time,” said Charlie.
“It’s not just being physically prepared;
you also have to be mentally prepared.
Because you just have to constantly keep
going, never stopping until you finish,” said
“You just have to ride to your horse, and
you’re thinking about that. Thinking about
what the horse has left, and what it doesn’t
have left in it,” said Sophia.
The 160-kilometre ride is split into five
different ‘legs’, each with a break in
between. Charlie explained that at the end
of each leg, there is a hold time. Here, your
horses are checked by vets who make sure
the horses are still healthy and happy, and if
successful they are put in the yards with the
strappers who feed them and look after
them while you rest.
Not one, not two, but three awards were
received among the Tooraweenah juniors,
including the champions of the unrestricted
“Box Hill Arabian’s won the teams
event too,” said Charlie.
“Our Box Hill Arabian’s won, so that’s
four horses, all bred by my family from the
same place, and you do a teams event on
where you place and what time. And our
team won the unrestricted teams event,
which is pretty exciting.
“There’s three different categories within
the teams events, so there’s international,
restricted, where you have to have two middle,
one light, and one heavy weight, and
unrestricted. So anyone who wants to participate
can, and it is a much bigger class.
“We had Sam Duff and three juniors,
Lara, Sophia, and myself. We all vetted
through, and we won it.”
The juniors all walked away from the
ride thrilled to have participated, and are
ready to take on next year’s Tom Quilty.
“It’s just a really good time to get out,
hang around for a bit, and ride your horse,”
“I would love to do it again.”
The 2022 Tom Quilty Gold Cup winners
were Kristie Taprell and Tahlia Frankie on
Castlebar Roulette and Castlebar Bazaar.
The winners completed the ride in 10 hours
and 39 minutes.
The Gilgandra Weekly caught up with
last year’s winners, Stella Harbison and
Jessica Aistrope, to reflect on their own
achievements in 2021.
“It was surreal to win. I think not just the
fact that we ended up coming across the line
together first, it was just a mammoth effort
to drag five horses to Western Australia,
multiple vehicles, however many people we
had. It was a massive effort and I think
walking away with the cup was unreal at the
end of the day, but well worth it,” said Ms
“I don’t even think it has sunk it yet. It
was quite a privilege to be apart of. Hats off
to everyone involved really,” said Ms
The riders hadn’t been to Tooraweenah
before, and were excited to give the new
trail a go.
“It’s a very different course this
year, and we haven’t ridden here before, but
apparently there’s a lot of mud and a lot of
mountains, so we’ll see how we go,” Ms
Harbison said [before the event].
The lead up to the ride meant that Tooraweenah’s village of around 250 people, had an influx of nearly 200 per cent.
Over 400 people from all across the country set up
camp around the showground, and enjoyed the events
put on by the Tooraweenah Endurance Ride Club.
Starting with the wine and cheese night last
Wednesday evening, local producers had tastings and
sold their products to the guests.
This was followed by a market day held in
Tooraweenah’s main street on Thursday.
Out-of-towners commented on Tooraweenah’s
warm and welcoming community, with some even
going as far to say that Tooraweenah has been one of
their “favourite Tom Quilty destinations”.
Tooraweenah Preschool and Public School, alongside
the Lions Club, served food and made sure their
canteen was open for anyone needing a bite to eat. The
weather held off for the most part, however due to heavy
rains days before, many vehicles became bogged.
This included at one point, a tractor. However, community
members and farmers alike rallied together to
lend a hand, and made sure everyone had a good and
safe time, with many laughs along the way.
The 56th Tom Quilty was a huge success for all involved and for the town of Tooraweenah. Everybody is looking forward to next year’s event, supposedly being held in Victoria.