The 2018 Queensland Endurance Riders Association (QERA) State Championships will be hosted in Imbil next week and has attracted riders from as far afield as Scotland and Japan as part of the 180-strong contingent of riders tackling the course at Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex.
Hosted by Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club, the event is expected to bring over 600 people ― including riders and their support crews ― to the Mary Valley town from 13-15 July, as the riders take on the diverse forestry terrain around the complex over 80km and 160km distances.
Event host and owner of Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex, Matthew Sample said those tackling the challenging 160km ride ― including riders as young as eleven ― would set off at midnight on Friday with many riding most of Saturday to complete within the 24-hour cut-off time.
“There’s a reason why our motto in endurance riding is ‘to complete is to win’ as even those who take out the championships will spend at least ten hours in the saddle to complete the 160km ride,” Mr Sample said.
“This event is truly unique and will give endurance riders the opportunity to take on a great challenge while bonding with their horses on one of Australia’s best endurance courses.”
“We anticipate we will have many riders who will be taking on their first 160km at this event, QERA has offered free entry to all Junior QERA members and the Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club has offered free entry for all open riders who wish to attempt this distance for the first time.”
“Anyone who has not yet completed this distance can use this ride as an opportunity to qualify for next year’s prestigious Tom Quilty Gold Cup which will be hosted at the Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex in July 2019. All riders must have completed a 160km to participate in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup and as there aren’t many of these rides on the annual calendar, the State Championships is a perfect opportunity.”
Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club President Kim Moir said that amongst the first-timers were several eleven-year-olds looking to qualify now in preparation for the 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup, as the ride also has a minimum age requirement of 12 years.
“It’s a real coming of age for our young riders to tackle a 160km, particularly when it’s an opportunity to qualify for the sport’s most prestigious ride which is expected to attract over 300 riders from across Australia to our Imbil complex next year,” Ms Moir said.
“These kids have completed 80km and 120km rides but a 160km ride requires a whole new set of skills and incredible commitment, so there will be a high level of excitement for both horse and rider which really adds to the energy of the event.”
“Endurance riders have the utmost respect and admiration for their horses as the sport is only suited to horses that have exceptional athleticism, intuition, intelligence and a very competitive nature.”
“The ride course sees riders return to the complex for vetting every 30-40 kilometres so vets can check on the horses’ wellbeing and ensure they are in a good condition before they set off on their next leg.”
Mr Sample said the course for the QERA State Championships was very similar to that for next year’s Tom Quilty Gold Cup so this event provided an excellent opportunity for all riders to get a feel for the terrain.”
“We have a fantastic field coming to this event, both for the 160km and for the 80km ride which starts at 6am on Saturday morning so we can expect to see very competitive times and a great day out on the track,” Mr Sample said.
“At Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex we are lucky to have unique trails through the Imbil State Forest; camping onsite for riders, their teams and their horses and facilities that are unmatched at any other endurance venue so these events are always a fantastic experience for the whole family.”
The list of competitors in the QERA State Championships includes the current Queensland Champion, Matthew Gadsby (Tweed Heads, NSW), the 2017 Pat Slater Cup winner Kaylea Maher (Imbil) and previous Tom Quilty Gold Cup winners Brook Sample (Kenilworth) and Jessica Langridge (Imbil).
The event is open to the public. To find out more please visit the website of the Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club www.stirlingscrossingendurance.asn.au.
Eleven-year-old Noah Hoogland from Upper Brookfield, Brisbane riding his horse Steel Poppy Hot Chocolate. Noah will be taking on the 160km distance for the first time at the QERA State Championships in order to qualify to participate in the 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup being held at Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex in July 2019.
Credit: Sarah Sullivan Photography