In 1988 the young Maree Tomkinson purchased a quality 7 YO thoroughbred who had proven to be too slow for high profile owner Robert Sangster. Maree was renowned for her great eye spotting a horse and has transformed many thoroughbreds into show ring superstars.
But none quite so special as her duel Garryowen winner Le Pigalle, with whom she has shared many memorable moments during the past 22 years. Le Pigalle was retired at Maree’s parents home and a much loved part of the family.
There is hardly a top show ring award that this dazzling duo did not win together, but of course, the most notable are the Garryowen wins in 1991 and then again in 1996, that are the standout career highlights.
Prior to their 1991 victory, Maree had sold Le Pigalle and part of the arrangement was that she would take the ride in the most prestigious event for equestriennes - The Garryowen Perpetual Trophy, for Lady Riders Over 21 Years. Named after the special horse of the show ring star of the 30’s Violet Murrell, Garryowen, who lost his life in a tragic stable fire at the Murrell’s Braeside stables and the legend of the valiant but futile attempts to save the horse give this event a sentiment that has seen the Garryowen attract the attention of almost every Australian through the main stream television interest in this contest. Pic above left the coveted bronze trophy.
Parting with Le Pigalle after this achievement must have been difficult ... and they spent a year apart. The horse did not live up to the expectations of his new Sydney based owners and Maree moved heaven and earth to be able to buy him back. When the arrangements were finalised, she drove up to get him and says that on the way home, the only cassette that was in the car was one by Bob Dylan and this prompted her to give her boy the stable name Dylan. At this time she vowed that Dylan would be with her forever.
In 1995 they were third in the Garryowen and vowed to work a little harder for the next year – and in 1996, they got the nod of the 5 judges to record their second Garryowen win. Maree says this was one of her very special career highlights and the generous support and messages from friends, fellow competitors and other horse owners was overwhelming and very much appreciated. “It seemed that everyone loved Dylan!”
Maree and Le Pigalle remain unrivalled in their show ring achievements from Champion Lady Rider, Champion Hack and they also notched up many awards in the dressage ring.
It is with compassion and sadness that I share Maree’s sad news with you. Earlier this week the 30 year old Dylan went on to the greener pastures where all good horses go. Maree said, “It is hard to imagine life without him there, he has been with me throughout most of the memorable times and milestones in my life – I will miss him a great deal.
Goodbye Dylan ... we will all miss your beauty and the magical performances that made you a star.
Note: As most of Maree and Le Pigalle’s achievements were prior to the Internet, I asked Maree if we could publish this scrapbook picture saved with her favourites and celebrating her Equimec Rider of the Month award. The photographer was not credited so permissions impossible.