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Last chance qualifier at Mia Mia a prelude to Quilty Gold Cup

ABOVE: Gina Thompson, Steve Blackhurst, Georgie Hart and Sophie Hart. Picture: DALE WEBSTER

ENDURANCE riders converged on a sleepy hollow in central Victoria on the weekend for a last chance to qualify for the sport’s pinnacle event, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup.

Cancellations of interstate qualifying rides due to wet weather in NSW saw a strong contingent of riders from Victoria and interstate lining up for the Legendary-Penn competition at Mia Mia, which is only in its second year.

Two international riders also competed, bringing total numbers to 112 starters across the 160km, 82km, 41km and 10km divisions.

First over the line in the “100 miler” (160km) was Tabitha Schmetzer, from Gippsland, on her Arabian/Standardbred cross Eaglehawk Halima Bea, completing the distance in a riding time of 12 hours, 57 minutes.

ABOVE: First over the line in the 160km division was Tabitha Schmetzer. Picture: JO BROCK

For a rider to be able to compete in the Quilty, they need to have successfully completed a previous “100 miler” so the course was therefore a Quilty qualifier.

Eight riders successfully completed the distance, with four of these achieving their qualification goals at their first attempt at a 160km: Sam Peters riding Love In The Mist, Brandon Dick riding Cameo Cranberry Moon, Kathryn Fairbairn riding Oso Zara and Sheree Bishop riding Shellal Kiwi.

This division was also an “elevator ride”, which meant that riders could choose to finish at 120km and receive a successful completion award for that distance. Eight riders chose this option as a good step up for their horses from 80km competition, or as a suitable preparatory distance for the Quilty.

With 28 entries for this division, the completion rate was 57 per cent.

The 82km section attracted 50 entries with many riders who had already qualified for the Quilty choosing this distance as a suitable lead-up event.

This division was won by Robyn Player riding Cedarwood Lodge Red Diamond in a time of four hours, 55 minutes.

It had an overall successful completion rate of 78 per cent.

The 41km intermediate ride is non-competitive and is used as a step-up in distance for horses and riders. Twenty four riders lined up for this event, of which there was a successful completion rate of 79 per cent.

The 10km introductory ride is also non-competitive and being open to members and non-members alike, is ideally suited to newcomers or those introducing new horses to the endurance environment and vetting procedures.

There were 10 starters in this section, including Elizabeth Gao who rode her Mule, Droy.

Nine riders successfully completed the distance.

ABOVE: Anouk Richardson successfully completed the 10km division. Picture: JO BROCK

With endurance clubs facing ongoing problems due to being locked out of forests due to new access restrictions, the Mia Mia event is an example of a new style of event being run with the assistance of the farming community.

Owners of “Rocklands” happily relocated sheep to allow for the riders to pass through their undulating property, which provided perfect conditions under foot for the horses.

Organisers were particularly grateful to the Mia Mia community, which turned out in force as volunteers to help run the event.

The Tom Quilty ride will be held on July 9-10 at Tooraweenah NSW.


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