WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: 160km endurance ride winners Stella Harbison and Minton East Chauncer during the 2019 Equestrian Australia Championships held in Imbil over the weekend.
WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: 160km endurance ride winners Stella Harbison and Minton East Chauncer during the 2019 Equestrian Australia Championships held in Imbil over the weekend. DENISE KEELAN

Valley sporting attraction bringing strong numbers to Gympie

EQUESTRIAN: The Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex in Imbil followed the success of July's Tom Quilty Gold Cup in style over the weekend with the running of the 2019 Equestrian Australia Championships.

Thirty-year-old South Australian rider Stella Harbison took out the FEI 160km endurance ride aboard Minton East Chaucer, crossing the finish line in 11 hours and 17 minutes after starting the Imbil State Forest course at 2am that morning.

Ride organiser and Stirling's Crossing Endurance Club president Kim Moir said she was delighted with the success of the championships.

"Stella finished 25th in her division in the 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup,” Moir said.

"To see her return from South Australia just two and a half months later to take out the Equestrian Australia Championship title for the three-star Fédération Equestre Internationale accredited ride is impressive and we congratulate her on the outstanding result.

"Second place went to the owner of the Stirling's complex, Matthew Sample riding Cedar Ridge Lyric while third place ... went to Samantha Yates from the United Kingdom riding Ausden Prince Mahal.”

The junior title went to NSW rider Tahlia Franke and Oso Florin, who completed the ride in 13 hours and 45 minutes. Imbil local Akhmed Pshunov squeezed home just six seconds before NSW's Christopher Bailey in a "hotly contested” 80km FEI accredited ride.

The three-day event saw more than 182 participants contest 13 rides, bringing an estimated 400-500 support crew and family members to the Valley.

Event brass claimed more than 150 riders from across Australia and as far as New Zealand and the UAE attended the event.

Sample said he was "very keen” to grow the sport by offering a range of rides between 20km and 160km to "cater for all skill levels”. "We love the sport and understand the need to offer entry level rides to attract new competitors,” he said.