Sydney CDI – a rider's profile – Maree Tomkinson
|Sydney CDI – a rider's profile – Maree Tomkinson - 26th Mar 2012|
Dressage in Australia has experienced a significant improvement over the past few years. A number of Horse and Rider combinations in the Grand Prix have consistently broken the 65 % mark and are now scoring in the high sixties and occasionally achieving a score of 70 plus. There are also a number of experienced riders in the wings with the ability to challenge most competitive Big Tour combinations. Some have the calibre of horse to be the future stars of Australian dressage and be competitive on the international stage. One such rider is Maree Tomkinson and her mare Diamiantina.
Initially Maree was a very successful show rider and then due to her passion for training horses changed to dressage in 2002. In 2006 Maree represented Australia on her imported Rotspon stallion, Rodrigo III, at the World Young Horse Championships (Rodrigo is now competing at Big Tour level and has recently been gelded). Later in 2007, Maree represented Australia again, at the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses on her magnificent Diamond Hit mare, Diamantina who was purchased as a four year old by Maree and Lyn Sultana. Together they came second in the small final. They then secured sixth place at the World Young Horse Championships in Verden. They also were 5 yr old Champion Young Horse at the Sydney CDI in 2007.
For the past few years, Diamantina has been nearly unbeatable in Prix St Georges and Inter I.
They recently were selected as part of the 2012 Australian Dressage National A-Squad.
A number of dressage fans (me included) in Australia have been watching this dynamic duo for a number of years, wondering when they would do their first Grand Prix test. In January this year, they made the leap into big tour, scoring 68.579 for their first Inter II competition and 65.894 for their first Grand Prix, beating the likes of Heath Ryan on Regardez Moi. "I waited for her to be ready for GP," said Maree, "but then I got to the point where I thought I would never think she was ready enough so I just had to bite the bullet and do it. It all worked out OK and the judges let me know she was ready (the scores were impressive for a first timer)! She is still far from where she will end up, there is so much that can still be so much better but this is a very good start and a wonderful indication of what is possible with her. She now needs to be a little more relaxed and supple through the movements and more confident in the piaffe. It's all there. It's just a matter of time and experience." You have to wonder if this mare has the ability to win the Sydney CDI Grand Prix even though it will only be her third Big Tour competition.
Maree's recently gelded her stallion Rodrigo III (stable name Ringo) who has been competing at Grand Prix since 2009. I asked why her mare was already scoring higher than Ringo considering he had been competitive at the world young horse championships.
"Well, I love my little Rodrigo and he has been such an amazing horse for me, he took me to Germany for the World Young Horse Champs and from there we found Diamantina, he has been trainable and honest and sound all the way through to GP and because I was competing him at Grand Prix, I was able to be patient and wait for Diamantina. She has amazing paces and is fantastic in the test; she just lifts that little bit more. She is very focused and trainable. Ringo on the other hand is a little bit like a stallion and can become and bit earthbound. It's really not easy for me to compare the two. They're so different."
So why geld him? "I gelded him in the hope I could find 10% more, he'll be competitive if the gelding works and I get 10% more!!!" Although I totally understand Maree's intention I was glad that my boss doesn't want a 10% improvement from me.
When watching Maree and Diamantina it is very exciting. The mare looks very hot, so much energy and yet Maree somehow manages to keep the lid on the boiler. I was surprised to hear that the mare is quite lazy at home. "She always wants to be big and slow so I'm always trying to make her small and quick. But at a competition she can be very noise reactive and yes hot.
This is when I love to ride her the most." You can hear the excitement in Maree's voice. "She is amazing when she's hot. All power and grace and as soon as she gets in the arena, she focuses and it's like is a perfect storm!"
The London 2012 Olympics is out of the question for Maree but what about 2016? "If I know nothing else I know that life is fragile and anything can happen, I would so love to compete internationally again but I also want to take care for my horses and my family and I can't afford to be flying back and forward to Europe every year. I love living in Australia and all the horses and riders I train. Unfortunately in our country, it's hard to be selected for the Olympic Games unless you spend at least 8 months in Europe and for me that is impossible. I did it once but I had to sell my house to stay there and I cannot do that again."
The Sydney CDI could shape up to be the platform to place this rider and her horses on top of the dais and if her past achievements are anything to base this on, then I'd place $100 dollars on a win.
All information on the Sydney CDI is available at www.sydneycdi.com .Tickets are still available and the trade village is booked out which means great shopping. What more could you want.