MORE than 140 competitors tackled the NSW Endurance Championships on the weekend in the toughest conditions seen in years.
Nestled in the Hawkesbury Valley the treacherous track required skilled riders and fit horses for the 160 and 80 kilometre rides.
John Dawson from Berry’s Jon-De-Le Arabians took on the 80 kilometre challenge along with Amanda Apperley.
Dawson snapped up second place in the heavyweight division and also won best conditioned horse.
“It was a huge weekend,” he said.
“Over 50 per cent of the horses vetted out because the course was that tough.”
Dawson said competitors travelled from across Australia.
“It was one of those events which really tested the rider and horse,” he said.
“It’s going to be the course for next year’s Quilty.”
The Tom Quilty Gold Cup is the national championship ride.
The prestige associated with winning this event, as well as competing, is immense.
The track began at Wisemans Ferry Del Rio Riverside Resort and meandered through the surrounding mountains, valleys and farms beside the Hawkesbury River.
Amanda Apperley won the lightweight division and also took out the best conditioned horse.
“I’m very proud of myself and especially the horse. It was one of the toughest rides I’ve done in years,” she said.
“We had torrential rain so it was slippery and the hills we tackled were very steep.
“The scenery was beautiful though, looking down on the Hawkesbury River.”
Apperley was riding at the time of her interview.
“We are getting ready for another ride in about three weeks,” she said.
“We’re looking forward to the Quilty next year.
“I told John I need a Quilty buckle. That is my aim for next year.”
Moruya’s Jeff Adams successfully tackled the 160 kilometre ride, finishing in second place in the open division and won best conditioned horse.
Predominantly a dressage horse Jazzpers Brush, a seven-year-old 16.2hh Warmblood mare, breezed through the track.
“She’s very tired now and lying in the sun,” Adams said.
“She did all the work, poor bugger. Some of the tracks we rode were part of Shazada (Australia’s grueling 400 kilometre endurance extravaganza).
“Baker’s was really tough, a very steep goat track it was slippery and rocky.
“I’m very happy with her results. I never thought she would do as well as she did.”
Adams finished the ride in 14 hours and 10 minutes.
“She is a dressage horse but she is very hot for it so I do this to calm her down a bit,” he said.
“She is so strong and powerful and very competitive.”