THERE are a number of titles on the line at the Landmark Classic, but organisers have said Tamworth has an eminent equine accolade of its own within reach.
The camp-drafting competition and horse sale can draw up to 30,000 people through the gates of AELEC over its nine-day run.
There’s prestigious belt buckles on the line for the champion riders and last year’s sale grossed more than $7 million.
As the competition and quality of breeding improves, organisers are more confident than ever to say Tamworth could be Australia’s horse capital.
Landmark general manager of livestock Mark Barton said it was his idea to bring the event’s first edition to Tamworth 11 years ago.
He said there were a number of towns “vying for the title” of the nation’s horse capital.
“I think Shepparton would like to claim it, Scone has often been renowned as that,” Mr Barton said.
“There’s no doubt Queensland has a number of very strong horse areas.
“For me, with the NCHA’s main events here, their offices are here, the quarter-horse association’s office is here, the bushies finals are here and the Landmark Classic is here.
“The highest profile, non race-horse events, are in Tamworth.”
Work is currently under way on extensions and upgrades to the AELEC, which Mr Barton said would make it a “world-class facility”.
It might sound like the organisers are getting on their high horses, but the numbers pulled by the event are significant.
There’s about 1500 people staying at the equine centre throughout the nine-day event.
It’s almost a one-to-one ratio of humans to horses with more than 1200 horses in town from around the country.
While the figures grow, it’s the improving quality which impressed Mr Barton the most.
Tamworth-based Hannah Murray works in equine sales and said the “quality line of horses” on show kept the crowds coming back.
“Because of the good incentives and prizes and cash on offer, people bring the very best they’ve got,” she said. She was confident to declare Tamworth the nation’s horse hub.
“Since [AELEC} has been built, this is the hub now,” she said. “It’s such a good facility in that it caters for so many different events.”