Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel saddles up for a good cause

SUPPORTIVE: Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel operators Heidi Blackhall and Geoff Hunt.
SUPPORTIVE: Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel operators Heidi Blackhall and Geoff Hunt.

WHEN Tourist Hotel operators Geoff Hunt and Heidi Blackhall heard the annual Sandy Hollow Charity Horse Ride was in jeopardy, they knew they had to lend a hand.

For the past 18 years, the 35km Sandy Hollow Charity Horse Ride has been raising money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS).

Every April hundreds of riders and their horses descend upon the rural town of Sandy Hollow, ready to help raise money for the cause – but, in 2018, there was a problem. 

The large parcel of land used by event organisers for camping, agistment, preparation and starting the ride was no longer available. 

Enter Mr Hunt and Mrs Blackhall. 

“If we had not allowed the riders and organisers to use land on the hotel property, they actually would not have been able to hold the charity ride this year,” Heidi said. 

“We have always been supportive of the event, and for the past two years the post-ride charity auction and entertainment has been held here at the pub, but the camping, horse agistment, and starting line was always organised using other grounds. 

“That space was no longer available and so the event was in jeopardy of not taking place.

“We couldn’t let that happen.”

The annual Sandy Hollow Charity Horse Ride raises about $30,000 for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, a service that plays an important role in rural communities like Sandy Hollow. 

“There's a lot of horse studs out here, a lot of miners, a lot of farmers and you don't realise how important the WRHS is until you need it," Mrs Blackhall said. 

“I have actually needed the service twice myself, once when my father came off a horse and also when my son was in a car accident. 

“They were both lucky and made a full recovery thanks to the helicopter service.”

According to Mr Hunt and Mrs Blackhall, the event is ideal for families and riders of all ages, with participants as young as four - and as mature as 80, taking part. 

Participants will saddle up on Saturday, April 21.

Registrations are open on Friday, April 20, at the Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel and camping is available onsite for $10 per truck. 

Cost of the ride is $20 per rider or $60 for a family, but you must bring your own horse. 

Spectators are welcome for a gold coin donation. 

Post-event entertainment will take place on Saturday afternoon with music, barbecue, jumping castle and charity auctions from 4pm at the Sandy Hollow Tourist Hotel. 

This story Duo saves the day first appeared on Hunter Valley News.