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Young and old saddle up for Tom Quilty Gold Cup 2019

Kids across the state will return to school next week with stories of the adventures they had over the holidays, but few will be as exciting as those of Zac and Matthew Sample.

When the clock strikes midnight on Friday, the boys will join more than 300 other riders and their horses as they take to the tracks of the Imbil State Forest on the Sunshine Coast to tackle Australia's most prestigious endurance ride, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup.

At just 12 years of age, Zac is the youngest competitor this year and it will be the first time he and brother Matthew, 15, get to take part in the challenging 160 kilometre ride.

Zac said he and his horse Brookleigh Milo had both been training hard to be ready for the weekend.

"What I love about it (endurance) is just being with your horse and being out in the forestry," Zac said.

"I leave all my other thoughts behind, I just love it and I take away a really nice experience."

With their dad Brook having seven Tom Quilty Gold Cup wins to his name, Matthew said growing up around endurance racing had instilled in him a great love of the sport.

"What I like about endurance racing is that it's very unpredictable, anything can happen on the track," he said.

"You create a great connection with your horse, it's mentally and physically challenging and it's a great sport."

The boys' uncle Matthew Sample is the owner of Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex which will host the race for the first time and said the high number of juniors expected to take to the track this year was great news for the future of endurance.

"We currently have five 12-year-olds nominated who all successfully completed a 160km ride last year to qualify for this event and I'm very proud to say that the youngest of these is my nephew Zac Sample who can't wait to take on his first Tom Quilty," he said.

"There is great prestige associated with completing the ride. These kids, along with every rider on the track, will be hopeful of crossing the line within the 24-hour deadline to receive a much-coveted Quilty buckle."

The race continues to attract riders young and old, with Ken Gordon, Toowoomba, hoping to win his second buckle at 78-years-old, having won his first at age 74.

Article courtesy of ACM and Queensland Country Life

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