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Age no barrier for Roy Barsby

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The Tom Quilty Gold Cup is a tough challenge for any endurance rider, yet Wyreema’s Roy Barsby, at 71 years of age, not only completed the course but won the heavyweight division.

Riding Dumaresq Suleiman, a horse he saved from being turned into dog food, Mr Barsby completed the 160 kilometre (100 miles) course in 13 hours and 40 minutes, over an hour quicker than second place.

The heavyweight division is for a rider and saddle with a combined weight over 91 kilograms.

Mr Barsby said he has been competing in the sport for about 57 years and it had been a dream come true to win.

“It’s been a lifelong dream to achieve that. I never thought .it would happen,” he said.

“They were the right conditions which made it difficult to ride. Attrition got me to where I was – in a good position.”

Mr Barsby said he was very lucky, as riders checked and faltered his skills and knowledge of how to ride to the conditions saw him win.

He had competed in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup eight times before, with best finishes of second and fifth.

“It was wonderful. Winners are grinners,” he said.

Despite his success, Mr Barsby has decided this will be his final Tom Quilty, choosing to finish on a high.

He compared it to a footballer winning the grand final and retiring then and there.

The Tom Quilty Gold Cup took place this year at Tooraweenah in New South Wales, between Gilgandra and Coonabarabran and at the foothills of the Warrumbungles.

First organised by RM Williams in 1966, the Cup is named after Thomas John Quilty, a well-respected horseman, bush poet and cattleman.

The conditions were gruelling to say the least, with heavy rainfall in the year combining with cold weather testing the mettle of everyone involved.

Competitors came from all across Australia, ranging from those around Mr Barsby’s age to as young as twelve.

In fact, a 12-year-old won the junior division.

Of the 186 entries across all divisions, 65 per cent completed the course and only 44 per cent of heavyweight riders did so.

Mr Barsby said he could not have done it without the valiant performance of Dumaresq Suleiman, who was destined to have his head chopped off when he bought was as a colt.

Since then he has sired a few horses and has proved to be more than capable at endurance riding as a gelding.

Mr Barsby owns a few horses on his property on Rosenberger Road where he has lived for two years.

He previously had lived in Warwick for some years and in Dubbo.

Roy was not the only Barsby competing, with his daughter Jo also in the saddle, finishing 14th in the middleweight division with a time of 12 hours and 51 minutes.

Roy was proud that Jo rode Dumaresq Vaquero, a horse Roy had bred himself.

“To be able to do it with horses he bred is quite special,” Jo Barsby said.

Ms Barsby said the experience, her third Tom Quilty, was very tough, yet amazing.

“It was some of the coldest temperatures I’ve experienced,” she said.

Roy and Jo, accompanied by Roy’s other daughter and her husband, would wake up to everything being covered in ice.

She said she was “very much” surprised to see Roy win.

“It took two stewards to convince him he had won,” Ms Barsby said.

“You just have to be so determined to do it.

“It proves you can do anything.”

Still young at 37 years of age, Ms Barsby said she will probably compete again in the Tom Quilty when it is in Queensland in a few years’ time.

It was a special moment for Jo to be able participate in the competition alongside her father, a feat she thinks was probably unmatched this year.

Like Roy, she has been an endurance rider since childhood, beginning in the sport at age 10 and competing in her first Tom Quilty at age 15.

On Our Selection News 28 July 2022

This article appeared in On Our Selection News, 28 July 2022.

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