Striking gold in the Mary Valley trails
LOCAL endurance rider Kaylea Maher on a locally bred Arabian horse Matta Mia Dimari have claimed the Holy grail of endurance horse riding with 160km of true grit on the weekend.
Maher fulfilled her dream of holding up the coveted Tom Quilty Gold Cup when she crossed the line on Saturday ahead of 298 other riders from across Australia and abroad in the iconic endurance race.
Hosted at the Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex in the Mary Valley, it took the tough-as-teak duo 10 hours and eight minutes to complete after setting off at midnight on Friday.
The mother of two said while she was hopeful of taking out the win, there were so 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,” Ms Maher
"You always have to have hope in your horse and believe in your horse, and that's what we did.
"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.”
"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 here.
"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 feels good to have this win on home ground.”
Ms Maher 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,” Ms Maher said.
"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 Cup, especially a success story like Ms Maher.
"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,” Ms Moir 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 in the Tom Quilty.
"The ride was very successful with exceptional conditions given the cool, dry weather and condition of the tracks.”