Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tom Quilty 2010

This year I rode the Manilla Tom Quilty, not on my own horse, but on a sweet horse with the name of Mt Eerwah Silver Mariner, know to most, and from hereon, as Petey. He is a horse owned by Jay Randle of Splendacrest Endurance Stables.

My preparations for Scrupulous had gone wrong - and he was not ready and fit enough to warrant making the long trip to NSW to compete. I missed having my show pony stallion at the event - there is something special about a stallion that all notice, they simply draw eyes and attention - however I will not digress.

Petey is a big striding grey, and very pleasant to have around. Very fit - he was still used for teaching many small children, as young as a 2yo boy having his first ride. Worth his weight in gold!

Petey had already done two 160km rides and is a seasoned horse. He gave me a nice quiet and steady start at the midnight ride. There were 300 plus horses milling around, the riders all keen for the silver buckle. It is very exciting at the start of a Quilty - I was rapt to be in the saddle and not watching on the sidelines - like the year prior!

The first two legs were very jarring, and there was a high vet out rate. Petey was solid - and Jay was happy with the timing of my ride - to instruction. I had a Japanese rider along to guide - however he wanted to move forward - faster than my pace, and ducked past when I had a toilet stop on the second leg! Petey missed his mate for a while, and then settled. He has a lovely forward way of moving, that just ate up the kilometers. On the second leg, I spotted the Splendacrest saddle blanket and gell pad on the ground. I carried these to the next checkpoint, concerned about the whereabouts and welfare of the Japanese man and his horse. When we got back to camp, the man had just not noticed that the saddle blanket had slipped, so all was well.

The next two legs were soft going, lovely tracks. Such a pity the heavens opened, as they always do for a Quilty. We were up to our fetlocks in mud for the next 70kms or so. Slipping and sliding, over what was a previously achievable course.

Still - we were through the vet checks and on to the final leg - 11kms. Petey felt great. The man at the weigh station said that Petey was as sound as sound as he crossed the line - that is how he felt too. To my surprise and disappointment, 7 minutes later he trotted out lame in the shoulder somewhere, in front of the vets. The panel said I was out.

Stunned - Petey felt so good - I wondered what I could have done to change this. My second vet out ever (The other being the Shahzada 400km marathon), I wondered why my luck would not allow me to take an elusive buckle home.

Completetion rates are usually around the 50% mark at these big rides - this one was no exception. I guess when we take one the bigger challenges - we expose ourselves to possible failure. 160km is a long way to ride on a horse, and luck toakes its part too.

So I will keep on trying - and someday I will lay claim to that elusive Quilty buckle.

Thanks to Jay for providing a great horse to ride on. Thanks to all those people that helped - in so many different ways. I could write volumes on the endurance people and how wonderful they are.

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