Canberra lost a beautiful young woman earlier this month, and today I rise to pay tribute to her. Riharna Thomson was 22 when she passed away from injuries she sustained in a tragic accident: a fall while riding a horse in track work at Thoroughbred Park. I am sorry that I did not get to meet Riharna.
I know that she was studying politics at the Australian National University as well as doing her track work, and I am sure that her passion for all things horses would have extended into her political studies and shaped her political views. I understand her workmates used to call her 'the minister', so she sounds like she was an extraordinary woman, and it is such a tragedy that I did not get the chance to meet her.
Riharna was a dedicated track rider, rising early every morning, and had been promoted to the position of stable foreman for the training partnership between Keith Dryden and Scott Collings. With at least 25 horses in work at any one time, this role would have made Riharna's ever-ready smile even wider as she worked in an area that she loved. Described as someone who always made people feel happier, Riharna was well known, well respected and loved in and by the local stable fraternity here in Canberra and the surrounding region.
Canberra held its Black Opal Stakes day at Thoroughbred Park on the Sunday after Riharna passed away. It was an opportunity for Canberra's racing community to pay tribute to her, and they paid tribute to her. My thoughts are with Riharna's family, her parents, Ian and Jane, her younger siblings, Colin, Braden and Bessie, and her friends at this difficult time.