by Jay Randle
The Tom Quilty Gold Cup ride over 160km (100 miles) commences at 4am next Saturday morning (20th September). This is the Australian National Championship ride, and is one of the premier 100 mile rides in the world.
Unlike the Tevis Cup, the Quilty rotates around the states of Australia each year, meaning that each state hosts the Quilty once every 6 years. I live in Queensland, which is the northeast quarter of Australia, and our last Quilty was in 2006. So we weren't expecting the Quilty to return here until 2012.
BUT..... Australia got hit with the Equine Influenza epidemic last year, and that kind of stuffed things around a bit! The Quilty was supposed to be held in the southern state of Victoria this year, but the EI bug really caused a lot of grief and heartache, and the Victorian ride organising committee decided that they just could not continue with their plans with everything being in such disarray. So, luckily, a small band of people from the small town of Nanango, Queensland, applied for the opportunity to hold the 2008 Tom Quilty Gold Cup.
This group had hosted a very successful 160km ride in June 2007, and the infrastructure of the ride base, as well as the track, had been tried and tested, coming through with flying colours! So, bravely, from 1 March this year, this committee started planning for the 2008 Quilty. Normally it takes 2-3 years to organise the Quilty as, unlike the Tevis, the track changes every year.
In order to ride the Quilty, every rider must prove their ability by completing a 160km ride BEFORE they can enter the Quilty! And in order to enter any 160km ride in Australia, each rider must have already completed 3 x 80km (50 mile) rides. So, the qualification process for riders wishing to enter the Quilty is quite strict. As you can imagine, all riders in Queensland have spent 2008 trying to qualify for this unexpected 2008 Queensland Quilty.
And now the 2008 Quilty is fast approaching! AND.... Nanango is only a 2 hour drive from Splendacrest! BONUS!
I had been planning on taking 3 or 4 horses to the Quilty in Victoria this year (a 3 day drive), but now I can take more! Since the announcement that the 2008 Quilty would be held in Qld, the entire year of competition has been building to this point. So, at this stage, I am taking 12 horses to the Nanango Quilty. Am I crazy, you ask?
So, as I am very proud of all the Splendacrest horses and riders that will be competing at the 2008 Tom Quilty Gold Cup, let me tell you a little about them:
The youngest member of our team is Ingrid Ambrosiussen, at 15 years old. Ingrid has been riding for Splendacrest since January 2007, and is a lovely young lady. She will be riding Shaah, a pure Polish 8 year old brown arabian gelding, standing at 15hh. I purchased Shaah as a 2 year old, and this is his third season of competition. Ingrid will be riding in the Junior division of the ride (juniors here do not need to be accompanied by an adult, so she will be riding by herself).
The next youngest member of our team is Tarnia Kittel, who will be 16 in November. Tarni has been riding for Splendacrest for 3 years, and has the amazing balance of a gymnast (which is how she used to spend her time prior to discovering horses!). She will be riding Splendacrest Dryad, a 13 year old bay Arabian mare, 15hh. Dryad has been a part of Splendacrest for 7 years, and this is her 6th year of competition. Tarni will be riding in the Middleweight division.
Then we have Gerard Bou, commonly known as "G", who is in his 30's, 6'4" tall, skinny as a beanpole with no butt, long haired, and bearded! G has been riding for Splendacrest for 20 months, and has taken to the sport like the proverbial duck, even though he hadn't ridden for close on 20 years prior to starting with us. G will be riding Splendacrest Fiesta, a 9 year old bay Arabian mare, 15hh when she's standing on tippy toes! I bought Fiesta as a 3 year old, bred her and gained a beautiful filly foal, and then started her under saddle once the foal was weaned. Fiesta was a real handful to begin with, but is now a reliable and gutsy performer. I then sold her as a 6 year old to a Japanese client who elected to leave her here in training, and who flies over to ride her 3 or 4 times a year. Unfortunately he is unable to ride the Quilty, so has graciously asked G to ride his horse for him.
Liz Cullam is a very good friend of mine who lives on the other side of the country, in Western Australia. She is coming over to the east coast to join us, and to ride Bullarto Fiorelli, a 9 year old brown Anglo mare, 15.2hh. Fiorelli is often a naughty girl, but Liz loves her as she successfully completed the 2006 Quilty on Fiorelli for a Top Ten placing. I'm looking forward to catching up with Liz, and you can be sure there will be a lot of tall tales told around the campfire!
A very good client of mine is Rod Strahan, who breeds endurance Arabians that are well-known and respected throughout Australia. You can visit his website at www.shardell.net . Rod will be riding his home-bred 9 year old grey Arabian gelding Shardell Azrark, who stands at 16hh. And yes, he is a purebred Arabian! Azrark has been competing in endurance for 3 years, and has had some great results. I have been training this great horse since the beginning of this year.
Splendacrest welcomes riders from all over the world, and this year we will be joined by 4 Japanese riders for the Quilty. All of these riders have been here in the past, and have ridden with our team over the past 3 years or so. Mr Yukinobi Horiuchi will be competing on Pinfeather, an Australian Stockhorse/Arab cross gelding, 15.2hh, 14 years old. Pinfeather is owned by a great friend of mine, Alwyn Torrenbeek, who at 72 years of age will also be riding the Quilty for the 15th time!
Miss Satomi Kitamura will be riding Mt Eerwah Silver Mariner, aka "Pete", an 11 year old grey purebred Arabian gelding, 15.1hh. Pete has 3 fused vertebrae in his neck as a result of an accident as a yearling, and can't turn his head around to look at you as most horses will. However Pete has a heart as big as Texas, and is a real gentleman to ride. I have trained Pete for several years now, but only recently purchased him when the opportunity became available. He is a true gem among horses, and we all love him very much.
Mr Takeshi Ito will be riding Splendacrest Perfection, a bay 8 year old Anglo Arabian (Thoroughbred/Arab cross) gelding, 15.2hh. Perfection is truly remarkable, with a great laid-back attitude. Takeshi came to Australia in March 2007 and rode Perfection in his first ever 80km ride, and fell in love with him! He then returned to Australia in August 2007 and rode Perfection in his first ever 160km ride, completing successfully. In order to prepare for the Quilty, Takeshi returned in May this year for another 80km and in early August for a 100km ride, both on Perfection! And now he gets to ride his favourite horse in the Quilty next week. They make a beautiful pair.
Mrs Riyo Noyori will be riding her own horse, Bulgari Bentley, an 8 year old bay Arabian gelding, 14.3hh. This is Bentley's third season of competition, and his story is a very sad and interesting one. Bentley was bred and owned by a lovely man, Michael Gabriel, who rode him in 2006 and early 2007 before being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Unfortunately, Mike died early this year, and sweet Bentley was looking for a good home, so I took him on and prepared him for Riyo to try out. She came to Australia last month and rode him in an 80km ride, loved him, and bought him! Bentley will remain here at Splendacrest, and Riyo intends to come here 3 or 4 times a year to compete on him.
And we are VERY pleased to welcome a couple of our American friends to the Splendacrest camp! Kim Fuess was extremely welcoming to myself and my friends who accompanied me to the USA in February this year, and I am so excited that she is coming over to ride the 2008 Tom Quilty! Kim will be riding Lilonda Count Richael, aka "Ricky", a 16 year old bay Arabian gelding, 15.1hh. Ricky is a favourite here at Splendacrest, and is a real character! He has completed 4 previous 160km rides, including the South Australian Quilty in 2004. This is Ricky's 7th competition season, and he never lets us down. I am sure that Kim will end up loving him as much as we all do.
Charisse Glen is also coming to join us, and she will be riding Bacchante Silver Lace, aka "Quartz" an 8 year old grey Arabian mare, 15.1hh. Quartz is a lovely mare, with a never say die attitude. I bought Quartz 10 days before she foaled, and I now have a beautiful 4 year old filly out of her to carry on her lovely nature.
I will also be taking a 'spare' horse along, just in case, *fingers crossed*. Aratahnes Galaxy, aka "Chevy", is a 13 year old chestnut Quarab gelding, 15.3hh. Chevy is very easy to ride, and will be a great 'back-up' horse for everyone! He has been an institution here at Splendacrest for 7 years, and has taught many youngsters to ride along with providing many great completions for his riders. His job is to look and feel good and to provide me with a 'safety net' if I need one!! :-)
Can you feel how excited I am? I'm really looking forward to a great week, and I know that all my riders and guests will have a wonderful time at the 2008 Tom Quilty Gold Cup ride in Nanango, Queensland!
SPLENDACREST ENDURANCE TRAINING