5 April 2024

Holbrook endurance riders scoop three wins out of three in challenging 100-km competition

| Vanessa Hayden
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Two women stand with two horses

Holbrook’s Chloe Hayden (left) and Tracy-Lee Cossor (right) sat in the saddle for more than seven hours last weekend to win their 100-km endurance ride divisions at the Burrumbuttock Endurance Ride held over Easter. Photo: Supplied.

Holbrook endurance rider Tracy-Lee Cossor says just about every human emotion is experienced during a competition ride that often starts in the middle of the night and can extend to 10 or 11 hours in the saddle.

It is euphoria she is currently experiencing after her team at Future Dream Arabians took home three significant wins at the Burrumbuttock Endurance Ride over the Easter weekend.

Tracy-Lee won the Australian Endurance Riders Association (AERA) 100-km middleweight category on Anglo gelding Karameawoods Sirrocco and team rider Chloe Hayden won the 100-km lightweight category on Anglo mare Betty be on Time in a field of 40 riders.

Both competitors were also given the Best Condition Award which is earned by the horse judged to have finished in the best condition with a score which takes into account riding time, weight carried and physical state.

On top of that, Tracy-Lee’s stepdaughter Hannah, 20, won the 100-km Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) Youth division on the family-owned purebred Arab gelding Newbury Illustraas Impact, and also took home the Best Condition Award.

“For me it was a very successful weekend. We had six horses compete and we got all six through the event which included three rides in the 40-km on the Saturday,” said Tracy-Lee.

“It was a big event and quite prestigious because there was FEI, which is international level, held at the same place alongside the AERA which is our national level.

“To have three horses in the 100-km divisions and all take away the first place and the three best condition awards was pretty special.

“It was particularly good as it was one of our first competitive rides for the season.”

Twenty-year-old Hannah Cossor won the FEI Youth Division 100-km endurance ride

Twenty-year-old Hannah Cossor won the FEI Youth Division 100-km endurance ride and hopes she may get to compete in the Youth Championships in Romania next year. Photo: Supplied.

The early 2024 wins follow a successful end of season ride in 2023 when Tracy-Lee and Hannah won equal first in the 160-km middleweight ride at the South Australian State Championships last November.

She said it took mental toughness to be an endurance rider.

“It’s mentally and emotionally challenging. Especially in a 160-km ride. You will go through every emotion that a human can experience through that one event – nerves, fear, happiness, sadness, anger – everything you can think of.

“You are very much in your own zone but at the same time adrenalin kicks in, nerves kick in and for everything to go right they all have to kick in at the right time, if that makes sense.

“If the nerves overcome you – same as any other sport – it can make or break you. You have to be on your A game the whole time.

“But it’s also very satisfying – during it and at the end, no matter the outcome.”

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She admits her profession is also an obsession.

“People ask us why we do it and well, we are obsessed with it. Once we start it, we can’t stop; we are always looking for the next ride or the next event to keep the momentum going; it’s what we live and breathe for; it’s probably very weird to some people.”

Tracy-Lee said part of the appeal of endurance riding was the relationship that was established with the horses.

“As endurance riders we get to spend a lot of time with our horses, especially in the saddle.

“For some people, rides can extend to up to 24 hours for a 160-km event. On the weekend Chloe and I claimed line honours with a winning time of seven hours and 15 minutes.

“Most other equine industries don’t really spend as much time in the saddle as we do. And we always go back for more.”

All three competitors also took home the best condition horse in their classes

All three competitors also took home the Best Condition Award in their classes which was judged on their riding time, the weight carried and the horses’ physical state at the completion of the event. Photo: Supplied.

Next on Tracy-Lee’s radar is the FEI’s Roma Endurance Ride in Queensland. She will be taking a team to compete as part of her ambition to qualify to represent Australia at an international event.

It will be Hannah’s first attempt at the 120-km FEI ‘two-star’ qualifier on the same horse she rode at Burrumbuttock.

“As a team we are working toward qualifying them for the youth championships next year in Romania,” said Tracy-Lee.

Many people have heard of endurance riding through the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, inspired by outback legend RM Williams and still considered the premier endurance ride in Australia. Winning, as well as finishing, carries immense prestige.

While it’s not a qualifier to compete at international level, it is an event any serious endurance rider aspires to be in.

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Tracy-Lee says she has come close to winning the Quilty but hasn’t quite got there yet. She said that while some riders took part in the event just to get through it, she always aimed to come home with more than just the finishing buckle.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years now but I’m still waiting to win that one,” she said.

Operating Future Dreams Arabians is a family affair for Tracy-Lee who says she couldn’t do it without her support network.

Her husband, parents and the other children play active roles in keeping things ticking along at home (aka feeding all the other horses and looking after the property) while she’s away competing. Her brother Jake is on hand when Chloe, who happens to be his partner, is in the saddle.

It’s not a new concept for the well known Holbrook family whose equine bloodlines stem back to Tracy-Lee’s grandfather Roy Whitehead, known as one of the best country racehorse trainers in Australia.

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