The running of the Quilpie Cup each year honours the memory of two brothers who are legends of bush racing in outback Queensland. The Quilpie Diggers’ Race Club has a proud tradition of bush racing, and is named for the Diggers returning from the First World War, it was the club of outback racing legends, including Bill and KJ Costello, Alf Mead and EJ Pegler.
The club has held its annual thoroughbred meeting in May every year, the Quilpie Cup, followed by a station horse challenge each September. Each year the Quilpie Cup honours the memory of the two brothers, Bill and KJ Costello, who were renowned in outback racing circles.
Legend of the Quilpie Cup
Bill was born in 1912, he left school to work in the bush at a very young age. He always loved horses and racing them, and rode his first winner at Betoota at the age of twelve. Bill won the Windorah Cup no less than ten times, five of those were consecutive wins on the famous Spirit, trained by his brother KJ. Bill rode cup winners from Bridsville to Cairns to Rockhamption and almost every country race meeting in Western Queensland. Bill passed away in 1999.
South west Queensland country racing was a lifelong passion for KJ. He lived and breathed country racing and he loved nothing more than attending race meets on the western circuit, generally having a horse of his own in the running. His racing career, like Bill’s, started at an early age, something they learnt from their father William Costello. William is noted for once riding a horse from Adavale to Quilpie just to watch his race horse do track work. Years before launch of horse betting, KJ would often talk about the early days when he and his brother would lead their race horses from Adavale to other local towns to attend race meetings. Success soon followed for KJ and he won the Quilpie Victory Cup at the age of 21 with his wonderful horse Spirit, ridden by his brother Bill. Spirit went onto win another 12 cup races in the region. Over the years he trained some very talented country race horses, including Yet Fell, Meldere, Quilpie, Lisa Loves Diamonds and many, many, more.
The Quilpie Cup Today
The Quilpie Cup is run every year over 1350 metres, and are part of a full program at Bulloo Park. The crowds come from far and wide to enjoy the best of Australian Bush racing, with the number of race goers steadily growing in recent years. The annual Quilpie get together remained an important event on the community calendar, despite the drought and difficult times. There are also be major prizes for the Fashion of the Field competition winners and an outdoor movie screening for children.
So, despite getting to see the legendary white and brown racing colours of the Costello brothers, their spirit helps keep bush racing alive with the Quilpie Cup and all the events at the Quilpie Diggers’ race track. The Quilpie Cup is a rewarding enjoyable and essentially thrilling bush horse racing experience, a showpiece for the Australian Bush racing events that are so heartily appreciated around the country.