Collie to host Tom Quilty endurance ride

All done: Riders crossing the line at the Collie racetrack following completion of a 160 km ride . Photo credit Terry Jewell.
All done: Riders crossing the line at the Collie racetrack following completion of a 160 km ride . Photo credit Terry Jewell.

On September 18 and 19, 2020, Collie will host the Tom Quilty Gold Cup 160km Endurance Ride. The Tom Quilty ride is the premier event on the national calendar and the one event that every endurance rider wants to compete in.

Riders leave with pitched excitement at midnight on Friday night, trying to complete the gruelling course before midnight on Saturday.

It is a test for both the horse and rider against the terrain and the elements. Horses are vetted stringently pre-ride and along the way at various checkpoints and then at the end of the ride.

If all vet criteria is met the horse and rider are deemed ‘fit to continue’ and ultimately receive the coveted silver buckle for completion.

In 1966 R.M. Williams organised the first 100 mile (160km) endurance ride in Australia. At that time he approached his friend Tom Quilty, of Springvale and Bedford Down stations in the Kimberley, to sponsor the ride.

Tom was respected both as a horseman and a bushman. For him long hard rides on horseback was part of everyday life. He recalled that 100 mile rides to post a letter or send a telegram were not uncommon in the days before the telephone or motor car.

Tom Quilty donated 1000 pounds and an Adelaide goldsmith was commissioned to construct a gold cup which would be a suitable memorial to Tom and his ideals as a horseman.

The first endurance ride was organised as a national ride to perpetuate his wish that we should not lose the ability or pioneering tradition to ride over varying terrain for long distances.

The first ride was held in the Hawkesbury area in NSW with 26 riders starting at 1.14am.

Gabriel Stecher won riding bareback all the way on a purebred Arabian stallion, Shalawi, in a time of 11 hours and 24 minutes. The Quilty tradition was born.

In 1983 the Tom Quilty Gold Cup ride progressed to its present status of the national championship.

The original gold cup, due to its value, was placed in the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and R.M. Williams donated $,000 for a replica, which is presently the perpetual trophy.

In 1986 it was decided to rotate the Quilty around the states, which was apparently one of Tom’s wishes before his death.

In 1989 the Quilty was held in WA  at Mornington Mills for the first time. Many riders travelled from as far away as Queensland to compete. Eighty riders started the ride and 40 completed.

In 2020, the WAERA (Western Australian Endurance Rider’s Association) expects  over 150 competitors including  many from the Eastern States along with international entries as Collie hosts WA’s sixth Quilty ride.

The Shire of Collie with community based volunteers is rallying to the cause. The townsfolk are very excited about hosting the event.

The ride will be held from the Collie racetrack which has ample room to accommodate campers and a spacious area for vetting, strapping and entertainment. The town will swell in numbers for the Quilty week as an exciting program is planned leading up to the midnight start of the ride.