The Tom Quilty Gold Cup is regarded as the ‘premier ride’ and the Australian endurance calendar and is also one of the toughest.
Tenterfield veterinarian Luke Annetts has successfully finished the gruelling 160km ride on 10 occasions with his most recent at the annual event in Tasmania on Friday.
Annetts and the Glen Innes-bred Churinga Taboo were the fifth heavyweight pairing over the line and to top off their success, received the prestigious best conditioned award in their division.
Making the feat even more impressive was the fact the seven-year-old gelding only began his endurance career this year with the longest ride in his career only half the distance of the Quilty.
“He is only a youngster, he only started at the start of the year so it was a big ask for him,” Annetts said.
“I was certainly hopeful [of completing] but it is the unknown when the horse hasn't done that sort of distance before.
“The longest he had done was an 80km, he had done four 80kms this year but he is purpose bred.
“His mother and father were proven endurance horses.”
He also wasn’t expecting to receive the best conditioned award, which was judged after a post-ride workout.
“I had the pressure on me not to fall off and not to get the horse on the wrong leg or anything like that,” he said.
“Pressure from the strappers, support guys and [sister] Jenny.”
While he had secured nine previous Tom Quilty buckles in the past, Annetts said each one is pretty special.
“It doesn't get old, not when you get your aim – the aim was 10,” he said.
The event in Tasmania attracted 141 competitors with 81 completing – the remainder either withdrew or were unable to pass compulsory vet inspections on the journey.
To successfully finish the event, the ride is broken into segments and the horses are checked over by a vet before continuing on to the next leg.
“The preparation can take years for one day basically and you just have to build them up slowly and get ready for the craziness for the ride day,” Annetts said.
“It is basically about managing the horse within its capabilities. The horse comes first, always.”
Annetts’ sister, Jenny, saddled up to alongside him but withdrew after the fourth leg.