Yass Valley will be sending two local women – Shirley Clark of Yass River and Kristie Wright of Binalong – to South Australia to compete in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup this year.
The event takes place annually, and is considered the most prestigious event on an endurance horse-rider’s calendar.
It will take place across July 7th and 8th, and requires riders to complete 160 kilometers on horseback as quickly as possible.
Clark described the tribulations of preparing for such an intense event, and said that a key aspect was her relationship with her horse, Oso Zoltan.
Additionally, Clark was clear about the safety measures put in place for the horses, as the event is so grueling and can severely tax the animals.
“The vets essentially manage the ride,” Clark said.
“You have to meet the [fitness] criteria before you even start the ride. They monitor all their [the horse’s] vital signs, plus we have to trot the horses to ensure they’re not lame.
“And there’s a parameter for their heart rate, so if you’re only doing 40 kilometres, your horse’s heart rate has to be under 55 beats per minute in 30 minutes [after the completion of the race].”
For those choosing to compete for 80 kilometres or longer, it is extended to 60 beats per minute in half an hour.
Clark has successfully completed three Tom Quilty’s, while Wright has one Quilty buckle, which she achieved at the 50th anniversary of the race in 2015.
Wirght has also been selected to represent NSW at this year’s competition.
She will be riding her Arabian stallion, Cooroora Allyjah. An international rider from France rode the horse, and finished fourth in his division, at the 2016 Quilty.
The race was named after RM Williams’ friend Tom Quilty of Spring Vale Station in WA. Quilty donated $1000 dollars towards the creation of the race in 1966.
The Tom Quilty Gold Cup will take place at Wirrina Cove in South Australia later this year.
"The vets essentially manage the ride"- Shirley Clark
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