Over 150 riders participated in endurance rides at Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex this weekend including a remarkable five-year-old who completed her first 40km ride, continuing a long family history of endurance over a number of decades.
Riders set off on Saturday and Sunday on rides ranging from 40km to 160km and including two international rides accredited by the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) ― the body responsible for governing equestrian sport internationally.
Taking home the top international honours was local rider Akhmed Pshunov who took the title in both the FEI 120km ride on Saturday and just came in ahead of Kenilworth local Brook Sample in a gallop finish in the FEI 80km ride on Sunday.
Matthew Sample, owner of Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex which hosted the event, said despite the weekend bringing the first rain the complex and forestry had seen in months, the weekend was a great success and congratulated all of those who completed the rides.
"Akhmed had a stellar weekend and other local riders like Kaylea Maher, Fiona Fenech, Brook, Leigh Ann and Zac Sample also did the region proud in the various Australian Endurance Riders Association (AERA) rides hosted over the weekend," Mr Sample said.
"Nine riders completed the 160 km event and that qualifies them to ride in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup being hosted at Stirling's Crossing next year. This number includes local rider, 11-year-old Tahlea Lochtenberg."
"Of course I'm particularly proud of my great niece, Taylor Grogan who completed her first 40km ride on Sunday at only five years of age and took home the Encouragement Award for her amazing effort."
"Our family has been participating in endurance riding for over five decades so seeing the younger members of the family like Taylor and my nephew Zac Sample ― who completed an 80km ride this weekend and his first 160km ride last month ― come through the ranks is really fantastic."
"Endurance riding is a family sport and the atmosphere at Stirling's Crossing this weekend reflected this with groups from all over Australia enjoying the beautiful forestry tracks in Imbil and spending time together doing what they love."
This ride brings the endurance calendar at Stirling's Crossing to a close for 2018 with Matthew Sample and his team gearing up for a big year in 2019 with the complex hosting the country's most prestigious endurance ride, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup.
"This will be the first time the Tom Quilty is hosted in Imbil and we expect to have over 400 horses and riders travelling from all corners of Australia, and overseas, to compete," Mr Sample said.
"It really is an iconic event steeped in history since it was established by R.M. Williams in 1966 and the original gold cup still has pride of place in the Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach."
The Tom Quilty Gold Cup will be hosted at the Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex from 11-15 July 2019.
For full results from the weekend rides please visit www.aeraspace.com.au.