The Quilty Cup, Australia’s premier endurance riding event, celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Story By Jessica Owers

It has been 50 years since RM Williams gathered together a few of his friends to create what is now the flagship endurance race in Australia. Over the June long weekend, the annual Tom Quilty Gold Cup returned to its roots on the Hawkesbury, NSW. Held at Del Rio Resort, just outside Wisemans Ferry, the 2015 Quilty was the biggest ever, with 342 people setting off on the ‘100 miles in one day’ ride, and a record 215 riders completing the 160 kilometres, earning themselves a prestigious Quilty buckle.
“This event has been three years in the making,” says Melanie Scott, president of the Australian Endurance Riders Association and one of the 215 to complete. “Because the ride was coming back to its origins, everyone wanted to come, and as a result we had an exceptional roll-out.”
Many of the race’s founding members were present. Hawkesbury locals Ron and Val Males were there, along with Chuck Stephens and the inaugural Quilty winner, Gabriel Stecher. Peter Williams represented his mother, endurance legend and former Quilty winner Erica Williams, widow of RM. A heritage display tracked the rich history of the Tom Quilty from 1966 to the current era.
Riders represented almost every Australian state and territory, and there were also competitors from New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, Canada and the United States, along with a good number of spectators from the United Arab Emirates.
The race was won by Ben Hudson, of Mudgee, NSW, on Captain Braveheart in 10 hours 16 minutes. Ben had finished second in 2014.
“A lot of people worked really hard to make this year a fabulous experience for the riders, and it was a huge success,” Melanie says. “I think RM himself would have been over the moon to see that it’s still going strong, and that it still involves all the family and the spirit of the horse.”

This Story is from Issue #102

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2015