top of page
  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

New Zealand farmer makes quick work of Quilty Gold Cup

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

ABOVE: Ashley Cole and Tonki Dee Boo Novak looking magnificent in the best conditioned workout after winning the Tom Quilty. Picture: SARAH SULLIVAN

A FARMER from New Zealand has won Australia’s most famous endurance ride, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, completing the 160km course in the third fastest time in the event’s history.

Ashley Cole, riding the nine-year-old Arabian stallion Tonki Dee Boo Novak, crossed the finish line at Stirling's Crossing, Imbil, Queensland, at the eight hour, 44 minute-mark, just a minute ahead of Catherine Bailey and Razorback Targaryen in second place.

Nikki Sample riding Brookleigh Danu was third, finishing the course in eight hours, 58 minutes.

Ashley and her husband, Ash, run a diversified farming operation on their property at Raetihi on New Zealand’s north island that see them juggling sheep, cattle and bees, as well as breeding Arabian horses.

Ashley returned to endurance riding about 10 years ago after an 18-year hiatus and competes with her husband and son, Clay, as members of the Central Districts Endurance Club.

“It was either buy a horse or have another kid,” she says on the club’s website. “The horse won!”

ABOVE: First over the line Ashley Cole and Tonki Dee Boo Novak. Picture: SARAH SULLIVAN
ABOVE: Just a minute behind in second place and still looking fresh Catherine Bailey and Razorback Targaryen. Picture: SARAH SULLIVAN
ABOVE: Third was Nikki Sample riding Brookleigh Danu. Picture: SARAH SULLIVAN

Ashley and Tonki Dee Boo Novak have been training in Australia since winning the 120km Waimeha Mandate Cup in New Zealand in February.

Of their three rides in NSW this year, they placed fifth in the 85km division at the Tumut Endurance Ride in March and then retired at the 80km mark of the 100km elevator ride at the Darling River Run in April and the 160km elevator ride at the Bushgrove Gift in May.

This year is the fifth start Ashley has had in the Gold Cup, with a placing of 19th riding Yallaroo Amira last year her best performance before now.

Her time has only been beaten by seven-time Quilty winner Brook Sample, who in 2010 riding Brookleigh Excalibur completed the 160km in eight hours, 35 minutes, and the record holder Mark Haigh, who completed the course in 1996 in eight hours, 14 minutes riding Rah Fire.

Breeder of Tonki Dee Boo Novak, Keryn Mahoney of the Tonki Dee Boo Arabian Stud in Tasmania, couldn’t be more proud.

The 15h bay is the first foal out of his dam Novar by Littlebanks Troubadour. Keryn says the mare has had a few other foals, with another on the way this year, but none have competed yet.

Keryn and her husband, Chris, are Quilty veterans, with Keryn having ridden in 20 and her horse Sarisha holding the record for the most number of completed rides at 11.

“We are very proud of Ashley and Tonki Dee Novak,” she said. “As a breeder it is very special to see your horses do well.”

The fastest heavyweight rider to complete the Quilty this year was Luke Annetts on Churinga Taboo in a time of 11 hours, 44 minutes, followed by Allyson Taylor on Norfolk Park Apocalypse and Duncan Woodhead on San Ella Navit who crossed the line together at the 12 hour, 25 minute mark.

ABOVE: Luke Annetts on Churinga Taboo. Picture: SARAH SULLIVAN
ABOVE: Modena Schofield and Fortaleza Abbe Rose. Picture: SARAH SULLIVAN
ABOVE: Mary Duncan on Bonnybrooke Samarai. Picture: SARAH SULLIVAN

The first lightweight rider, Modena Schofield on Fortaleza Abbe Rose, finished in nine hours, 27 minutes, followed by Tracy-Lee Cossor on Wybalena Lodge Aflirt in nine hours, 53 minutes. Third place in the lightweight division was shared by three riders who finished in 10 hours and 20 minutes: Michelle Cranston on Yallaroo Amira, Clare Fleming on Amarin Brindi and Naomi Lee on Duray Spartakos.

Junior rider Mary Duncan on Bonnybrooke Samarai put in a great effort finishing in nine hours, 42 minutes, followed by Emma Ireland on Bullio Maiko (11 hours, 5 minutes) and Dylan Stevens on Aloha Desert Thor (11 hours, 35 minutes).

Mary and Bonnybrooke Samarai were also awarded the Pat Slater Cup, chosen from the top 10 best conditioned horses each year. She was up against all division winners, who were named best conditioned in their sections.

The NSW team of Annette Bailey on Bullio Charlotte, Catherine Bailey on Razorback Targaryen, Modena Schofield on Fortaleza Abbe Rose and Tahnaya Mercieca on Henley Farm Fursan took out the state teams award with a combined time of 28 hours, 58 minutes.

Victoria’s Simon Thomas on Rocky Point Sands of Sinhalite, Marty Bryson on Miss Dior Mi, Gina Thompson on Henley Farm Islah and Nicole Porter on Avondale Silvertron were second, finishing in 36 hours and 37 minutes.

Third place went to Queensland, with Karen Lee on Markus Romulus, Danielle Kendall on Sherloch, Karen Winkel on Ranek Boz (lame, leg five) and Maeve Paten on Box Hill Nitro finishing on a time of 41 hours and 55 minutes.

The standard restricted teams win went to Stirlings (Ashley Cole, Nikki Sample, Matthew Sample and Victoire Alran) with Kurrajong (Elizabeth Moir, Boadicea Mountford, Emma Ireland and Michelle Cranston) second and the Vic Chicks (Naomi McGaffin, Wendy Riha, Nicola Robinson and Sarah McLaughlin) third.

In the unrestricted teams section Bushgrove Future (Hannah Cossor, Sarah Parker, Rodney Curry and Tracy-Lee Cossor) had the win, followed by the Laughing Lightweights (Janelle Taylor, Susan Sutcliffe, Michelle Chapman and Virginia Dale) in second place and Fun! ( Kristie Taprell, Arabella Ward, Tahlia Franke and Alexandra Toft) third.

Of the 182 starters in the Gold Cup, 131 successfully completed the course. All results are subject to verification.


(Click any image to expand)


1. Heavyweight winner Luke Annetts and Churinga Taboo

2. Middleweight and Quilty winner Ashley Cole and Tonki Dee Boo Novak

3. Lightweight winner Modena Schofield and Fortaleza Abbe Rose

4. Junior winner Mary Duncan and Bonnybrooke Samarai


Stories on The Regional’s website are free to read and always will be.

If you enjoyed this article you can show your support by joining our mailing list (either by filling out the form below or sending us a message).

We'd also get very excited if you put a "like" on our Facebook page.

bottom of page