Over the October long weekend the NSW Endurance Riding State Championships were held at Glen William.
Lyn and Leo Dillon’s Banfield property was the venue for the prestigious event which was hosted by the Zone 6 Endurance riding committee.
Competitors from as far away as Tasmania and North Queensland travelled to the Dungog Shire for the event.
The ride base was set on the banks of the Williams River with recent rain providing a lush setting. Interstate riders started arriving from the Wednesday onwards with local businesses reporting a steady stream of riders coming through.
The ride base which was designed and co-ordinated by ride director Brad Dillon was highly praised by all and boasted trade stores, hot showers, hot water donkeys for the horses and solar light towers that could be seen from miles away.
The Clarence Town Rural Fire Brigade provided the canteen from Friday morning right through until Monday with campers being treated with hearty meals, a licenced bar, ice blocks and a very generous serving of country hospitality.
Sixty five riders lined up for the start of the 160km event and 38 riders for the 80km ride.
Organisers were thrilled with the numbers which boasted some of the country’s best horse and rider combinations.
Local postie Gill Stevenson designed the course which included five clover leaf legs covering Flat Tops, Black Camp, Raglan and Mount Ebsworth.
The start was delayed to 1am Sunday due to the introduction of daylight savings time and provided the Queenslanders with endless confusion.
The first leg took riders up out of the valley and onto the Brewers Road skyline where they were greeted with stunning views of the Dungog lights nestled in the valley below.
As daylight dawned and the sun rose so too did the temperature. Riders slowed their pace and managed their horses well in the tough conditions.
As the field started to spread out over the course an epic state of origin battle was developing between front runners Talea Hasko-Stewart from NSW and Matthew Gasby from Queensland.
The two rode most of the first three legs together but as they entered the fourth leg Matthew managed to break away and gain a substantial lead.
In a riding time of 12hrs and 55 mins Matthew crossed the line first however due to an oversight on his part failed to maintain his weight during the ride and was disqualified.
Talea Hasko-Stewart from Canberra riding Blakes Heaven Bombora was the eventual winner in a riding time of 13hrs and 22mins giving her and Bombora back-to-back NSW State Championship victories.
Bombora also took out the coverted Fittest Horse Award and Talea’s win helped the NSW take out the team’s event.
The tail enders NSW Juniors Isabella and Makayla Circosta finished in a total riding time of 19hrs and 53 mins to both received their first 160km completion.
Local riders Melanie Anderson, Dean Walkom and Zoe Locke unfortunately were all unsuccessful with Dean withdrawing leg two, Zoe vetting out leg three and Melanie succumbing leg four with only 11.8kms left to ride.
The weekend was a huge success and was only made possible by the generosity and support of local land holders and businesses and the Dungog Shire Council.
The committee would like to say a special thank you to the Flat Tops Rural Fire Brigade who worked tirelessly to cart 17000L of water to both the ride base and to the horses out on track. – Rachel Haskins
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