Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex in Imbil, Queensland is saddling up for another major endurance event this weekend from 4-6 October following the success of hosting the prestigious 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup in July.
More than 150 riders from across Australia ― including Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia ― and as far as New Zealand and United Arab Emirates will descend on the small country town in the Mary Valley to compete in the 2019 Equestrian Australia Championships.
The event organiser Kim Moir said competitors will have the opportunity to compete in one or two of the nine rides being hosted over the two-day event, spanning between 20km and 160km in distance.
"This event will not only see the best riders take to the tracks of the Imbil State Forest — including the likes of recent Tom Quilty winner Kaylea Maher — but also offers the chance for less experienced riders to test their capabilities," said Ms Moir.
"This multi-ride event offers a challenge for all riders irrespective of their skill level, and of course our vigorous vetting system ensures all the horses remain in top condition to tackle the courses.
"With each rider expected to bring a team of two to three support crew to assist them over the weekend and many riders bringing families, we expect 400 to 500 visitors to converge on the complex over the long weekend.
"The Tom Quilty proved the quality of the tracks at Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex with one of the highest completion rates in the history of the event at 65% — something we are very proud of given it's the highest completion rate in the Tom Quilty since 1981.
"The amount of time and effort that goes into maintaining the venue and selecting the best tracks really makes this Australia's premier endurance facility and a very appealing option for people looking to participate in the sport.
"The Imbil State Forest provides a fantastic menu of tracks offering all terrains and conditions, whilst also interacting with cattle, deer and all other wildlife."
Owner of Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex Matthew Sample will compete in this weekend's ride along with brother Brook Sample and nephews Zac and Matthew Jnr.
"This is a family sport and the success of the Tom Quilty has continued to attract new riders across the age spectrum to the sport," said Mr Sample.
"We are looking to maintain the momentum following the successful national event which was one of the biggest in the 54-year history of the ride, with close to 300 riders participating in the 160km event.
"I encourage anyone who has considered participating in endurance to get involved this weekend and experience it for themselves. It's you and your four-legged best friend taking on the course, it's a real thrill for anyone who loves horse riding."
Participants in the 160km Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) accredited ride include 17-year-old Ana Whithead travelling from New Zealand as well as the current Tom Quilty champion and local Imbil rider Kaylea Maher.
The age restriction for FEI rides is 14 and the youngest rider for this weekend's FEI rides is 14-year-old Talyn Nix from Kunghur, NSW competing in the 1* 80km FEI ride, while Mognild Eerkens from Middle Ridge, QLD, aged 15, is participating in the 120km FEI ride on Saturday and the 80km FEI ride on Sunday.
For the non-FEI accredited rides, there is no age limit and riders will range from 12 to 73.
There are currently 144 nominations with 33 of them registered to compete in the FEI events. The event – which is free to the public – is being hosted at the Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex on 1 Derrier Road, Imbil.
For more information, visit the stirlingcrossingendurance.asn.au.