The Michael Gabriel Award is awarded to a new member who, in the opinion of the QERA Registrar, has made the ideal progression from a new member to an open rider in their first year. It was first awarded in 2008.
Ben Hoey riding Monarch Park Cimmaron, 2015 Michael Gabriel Award winner.
A Tribute to Michael Gabriel
Written by: David Nancarrow
Michael Gabriel was a diminutive man; equally, he embraced a huge personal presence and a dynamic drive to achieve. Michael first entered my life as a customer riding forest trails in the Kenilworth valleys and hills. He rapidly became a friend and valued member of the Dealbata family. Michael had arrived in Australia to find a new life. A proud Welshman, he left his family with few possessions save a St George flag and a Welsh rugby union jersey.
He found work in Brisbane settling into hospitality where he worked a number of distinctive Brisbane restaurants. Weekends however saw him at our farm gate. He escorted trails, gave riding lessons to customers and, in the evenings, worked our 30 person restaurant. These were times of great interpersonal associations.
Michael was a founding member of the Far-A-Way endurance riders. His strategic way of thinking helped shaped the development of what became a signature endurance event for Queensland and the nation. Not only did he perform with horses, he was an endurance rider who cleared the trails, marked tracks, managed the role of an executive in the Far-a-Way operations and shared a vision for this great sport.
Michael identified that he needed to advance himself through education. This he did by completing his HSE and enrolling in an Arts degree at Queensland University. Following completion of his undergraduate studies, Michael started an Honours degree which in turn led to a Masters degree and finally a Doctorate. His directions were characterised by his environmental focus, community action and the use of his academic skills in public administration. Woven into these years of real purpose Michael married, developed his land holdings, rode track work, and continued to compete as an endurance rider.
He held two Quilty buckles and rode and trained Sharahd Cady. My records show, that he also rode many outstanding horses including MacKellar, Bridgadoon, Sharahd Misha, Sharahd Queenah, and Dealbata Jacki Rae. Michael accomplished a lot in the years that I was privileged to know him.
It was a tragic Christmas day when Michael collapsed and was immediately hospitalised undergoing neurosurgery with additional surgeries following. Michael took up the challenges of his illness. He worked with his specialist and researched extensively his illness. He began riding and training Cady commencing with the obligatory three rides to re-establish his riding credentials.
It was with immense sadness when we farewelled Michael. His endurance family and his UK family gathered in acknowledgment of this man who loved and lived life, horses and the challenges of seeing right and justice prevail. It is a tribute to his memory that his estate continues to celebrate his life and purpose by providing the Michael Gabriel Award. The wisdom inherent in this recognition serves to applaud Michael as an endurance rider of commitment and capacity.