Kaylea Maher takes out 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup
Local endurance rider Kaylea Maher got to fulfil her dream of holding up the most coveted prize in the sport of endurance - the Tom Quilty Gold Cup - when she crossed the line ahead of 298 other riders from across Australia and abroad in the iconic 160km endurance race.
Kaylea completed the ride, which was hosted at the Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex in Imbil Queensland, in ten hours and eight minutes after setting off on the ultimate endurance challenge at midnight last night.
She said she was hopeful of taking out the win but there were many factors that influenced the end result.
“Every ride you just take as it comes as you never know what the end result is going to be,” said Kaylea.
“You always have to have hope in your horse and believe in your horse and that’s what we did today. We believed in each other and we worked through all our challenges and he came home really strong. I’m really happy with his achievement today.”
“Credit goes to the people at home in our stable, they do a fantastic job of looking after him and yes, it’s a lot of hours and a lot of time; a lot of tears and sweat that go into getting a horse to the condition they need to be in to perform on the day. And that’s what we’ve seen, the hard work’s definitely paid off and I want to thank everyone who’s helped me get there today.
Jamie Green riding No Regret Shocking - Best Condition
“It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or away, the competition is still there but to actually pull it off on home ground with the support from all my family, my friends and my team, I guess that’s where it comes down to feeling good about having this win on home ground.”
Kaylea also gave credit to her horse, Matta Mia Dimari, a locally bred Arabian with a feisty spirit.
“The first time I saw this horse I had a connection with him and I always believed from the first time I rode him that he could take home the Gold Cup,” said Kaylea.
“I worked with him from day one on our farm and I had the goal set in my mind that I was going to work towards getting him ready for this 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup.”
Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club hosted the ride and President Kim Moir said she was delighted that a local rider took home the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, especially a success story like Kaylea Maher.
Paul Bidei, from France, riding Beaudacious TE
“Kaylea has had an impressive endurance record having completed 122 official rides covering over 11,600km to this point, as well as taking home the lightweight title at the Tom Quilty Gold Cup three times in the seven years she has competed,” Kim said.
“She’s been riding since she was a young girl and now dedicates her time to training endurance horses, something she does incredibly well as seen in her performance today.”
“The ride has been very successful with exceptional conditions today given the cool, dry weather and condition of the tracks in the Imbil State Forest. There are riders aged 12 to 77 still out on the track and they have until midnight tonight to complete the ride.”
“There is great prestige associated with completing the ride, hence the tagline: To complete is to win, and every rider out there today will be aiming to complete within the 24-hour deadline of midnight tonight to collect their Quilty buckle.”
“We’ve also got the original Tom Quilty Gold Cup here from the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame which for many riders is a wonderful connection to when this ride began 54 years ago. The idea was based on the premise of completing 100 miles (or 160km) in one day and when R.M. Williams approached his good friend Tom Quilty about the idea in 1966, Tom donated the $1,000 which paid for the original gold cup which is here today.”
Jolene Cole on Baribo
Second place and Best Condition Award went to Jamie Green, from Brisbane, riding No Regret Shocking and third place to Paul Bidei, from France, riding Beaudacious TE who both rode in the middleweight division.
There was much excitement for the Cole family from Panuara, NSW when mum Jolene took out the heavyweight division while her 13-year-old daughter Emma was the first junior.
“Endurance is a family sport and the passion for horses and the sport is often passed down through the generations,” Ms Moir said.
“We’re thrilled for Jolene and Emma on this great result and with the age limit for the Tom Quilty Gold Cup being 12 years of age, having a 13-year-old take out the title is quite an achievement.
Emma Cole on Windradyne Flame
In the lightweight division Emma Dimech from Table Top, NSW was the top of the leader board while joint second went to Nikki Scott from Imbil and Floor Braunius from the Netherlands who rode a horse from Marburg, Queensland.
Ms Braunius had the ride of her life to achieve what doctors said would be impossible when she shattered her knee in a riding accident two years ago.
“I almost lost my leg three times during surgery and the doctors told me I could never ride a horse again,” said Ms Braunius.
“I made a promise to myself that not only would I ride again, but my goal was to ride in this year’s Tom Quilty. I rode Treasure TE from Toft Endurance stud who made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”
Emma Dimech on Oso Diamond Dazzler
This is the first time that the Tom Quilty Gold Cup has been hosted at the Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex and the iconic ride attracted around 2,000 riders, support crew and spectators to the town.
Photo credit: Sue Crockett