Fast facts on the 2006 Quilty
- The Tom Quilty Gold Cup 2006 will be held in Boonah, South East Queensland, from June 8th - 12th 2006 (June long weekend holiday).
- The Quilty was started by bush legend RM Williams and his wife, Erica, in 1966. It was named after Kimberly cattle producer, Tom Quilty who provided funds to make the gold cup. Boonah will be the 41st Tom Quilty.
- This is the second time the event has been held in Boonah. In 2000 it attracted 300 competitors and was the biggest endurance race in the world at that time.
- About 350 people are expected to take part. Together with their crews they are expected to swell the Boonah population by about 5000. Most will camp on the showgrounds alongside their horses.
- The objective of the Quilty is to 'ride 100 miles on one horse in one day'. The race follows 160kms of bush tracks winding through the hills around Boonah. It is conducted in five legs. Tracks follow a clover leaf pattern with horses and riders returning to the base after each leg for vet checks.
- The race will start at midnight on Friday 9th June. Although competitors have 24hours to complete, the front runners are expected to cross the finish line early Saturday afternoon.
- A team of 35 vets will check the condition of the horses after each leg. They test for pulse, metabolics, heart rate and gait. Any horse not deemed fit enough will not be allowed to continue. All test results are entered into the horse's log book.
- Endurance riding is the world's fastest growing horse sport with countries such as the USA, UAE, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Malaysia taking part.
- Australia has won more medals than any other country in the World Endurance Championships and the World Equestrian Games since their inception.
- In 2005, the Australian Endurance Squad won Silver in the World Endurance Championships, held in Dubai. The Australian Youth Squad won Gold in the World Youth Championships, held in Bahrain.
- About 8000 people are involved in endurance riding. These are horse owners, riders, crew, vets, officials and volunteer helpers.
- Endurance rides are usually 80kms in length (50 miles) or in the case of state championships or internationally accredited rides, 160km (100 miles). A few marathons are held, notably the Shahzada near Sydney, and the Faraway at Imbil on the Sunshine Coast. Training rides are also held (40kms) and some clubs run introduction rides (20kms).
- All breeds and types of horses can be used in endurance riding but the horse of choice is the Arabian. This is because the Arabian has evolved to travel long distances on very little sustenance. They have slow-twitch muscles designed for long distance work. All elite endurance horses are pure-bred or part-bred Arabians.
- This year the Quilty is being broadened to incorporate a Quilty Country Festival. The town will close its main street on Sunday 10th for a food and wine festival. A country music concert will be held on the evening of Thursday 8th.
- Volunteers will be a key contributor to the success of the event - and there will be hundreds of local and interstate volunteers working in areas such as ride administration, track communication, catering, strapping, gate keeping and so on.
- If you want to come to Boonah and be a part of the Quilty in 2006, check out the website for more details, and a list of accommodation: www.aera.asn.au/quilty
- Major sponsorship of the Quilty has come from the Boonah Shire Council, Queensland Regional Events. Many other businesses, companies, clubs and individuals have also contributed to the 2006 Quilty.
It's the toughest horse race in Australia and this year it will be the biggest event of its kind in the world. The punishing 160km-long classic, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, to be held in Boonah, South East Queensland in June, is expected to attract a field of more than 350 riders from around the world. Together with their entourages, they're expected to swell the local population by 5000.
Competitors will fly in from the Middle East, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the USA and Europe to test themselves alongside the Aussies, who are ranked world-first with more international medals to their name than any other country.
The objective of the Quilty is to test horse and rider - '100 miles on one horse in one day'. Competitors will begin the ride over bush tracks at a freezing midnight on Friday 9th June. Although they have a full 24 hours to complete, the winners are expected to cross the finish line in about 14 hours - arriving from 2pm on Saturday afternoon. Riders will also be vying for the coveted Best Conditioned awards, which reward the excellent physical condition of the top endurance horses.
Ride organiser Dick Collyer said seasoned international gold medallists would be riding alongside eager locals. "That's the glory of endurance riding - everyone can take part.
"We'll have members of Middle Eastern royal families, wealthy Japanese businessmen, a Malaysian prince and his crew, and some experienced riders from Europe. We'll also have Australian riders who have qualified for the Quilty by having previously completed at least one ride of 160km.
"Included in this group are some of our top riders - members of the Australian Youth Squad, who won Gold in December at the World Youth Championships 2005 and adult Squad members who took out Silver in the World Championships 2005.
"Yet we'll also have riders like the Weier family - five kids from Boonah, members of the local Fassifern Pony Club, who've been training on borrowed horses for the past two years and selling horse poo at $2 a bag to fund themselves."
Collyer said the Boonah track was a very scenic one, taking in some lovely views of the surrounding Scenic Rim of mountains. It included some climbs to the top of the Dugandan Range, but also a lot of cross country riding across private grazing land.
Quilty head veterinarian Dr Brian Sheahan said throughout the night his team of 35 vets would be checking all horses. The Quilty is conducted in five legs. Tracks follow a clover leaf pattern with horses and riders returning to the base after each leg for vet checks.
"We test for soundness to continue - pulse, metabolics, heart rate and gait. We're pretty strict. Endurance riding is the most vetted equestrian sport there is.
"All of these horses will have been training for up to three years for this event. They're fit and in peak condition but anything can happen and we have to be sure they're OK."
Collyer said preparations for the competition were on schedule. This year activities were being broadened to offer more for the general spectator and the town of Boonah was getting behind the event with enthusiasm.
Riders were expected to arrive with their horses as early as two weeks before. A food and wine festival was being held on the Sunday and a country music concert was being planned for the Thursday night.