Nominations for FEI Awards Reported Flooding In

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Saddle off. Longtime groom Ruben Palomera and Debbie McDonald with Brentina.
Longtime groom Ruben Palomera and Debbie McDonald with Brentina. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Sept. 17–Nominations are flooding in for the new FEI Awards, according to the International Equestrian Federation, that lists people from all aspects of equestrianism — competitors, grooms, organizers — as being voted for in a variety of disciplines.

The Awards have been designed to reward the fair play, team spirit, inspiration and prowess that equine competition espouses, as well as celebrating the outstanding achievements of what the FEI describes as “our often-underrated athletes.”

The five categories are:

Athlete of the Year — for a rider, driver or vaulter who has shown exceptional sportsmanship and ability. Nominations for this most prestigious award include, among others, German driving gold medallist Stephan Koch, British eventing legend Mary King, American show jumpers Ashlee Bond and Richard Spooner, the new European dressage champion Adelinde Cornelissen from The Netherlands, Britain’s silver dressage medallist Laura Bechtolsheimer and German event rider Ingrid Klimke.

HSBC Rising Star —for a rider aged 14-21 who has not only demonstrated significant talent but also a love of the sport and great commitment. This category has been popular among voters, with nominations including German dressage prodigy Sanneke Rothenberger, the 19-year-old Swedish show jumping star Alexander Zetterman, young Irish show jumper Shane O’Reilly, Uruguyan endurance rider Julio Olascoaga, American eventer Buck Davidson and Danish junior dressage hot property Catherine Dufour.

Alltech Development Award — for a development project, individual or organization which has shown exceptional skill, dedication and energy in expanding the sport. Among others, votes have been made for British dressage trainer David Hunt, Jan Tops, the Dutch show jumper who initiated the Global Champions Tour, the British Grooms’ Association, and show jumping’s Arab League.

Against All Odds — for a disabled rider of any age who has demonstrated that disability is no hindrance to sporting proficiency. Nominations received include votes for Australia’s Chantal Simpson, German para dressage medallist Bettina Eistel and Polish rider Patrycja Gepner.

Groom of the Year — for the often uncelebrated yet vitally important person who works behind the scenes. Ruben Palomera, who grooms for American dressage rider Debbie McDonald and who was closely involved with her top horse Brentina, is among the nominations, as is British groom Hannah Sharp.

The FEI asks: “Are these the best there are? Are they your favorites? Maybe or maybe not… You’ve still got until Oct. 17 to make your nominations. Each nation has its heroes and heroines — who has inspired and impressed you, either this year or over a period of time? There are great stories at every championship in every discipline about emerging talent, battles against adversity and unsung heroes.

Now’s the time to shout about them, so visit www.feiawards.org and make your nomination. This is a unique opportunity for anyone and everyone to take part in recognising and celebrating the leading lights on the global equestrian stage.

VOTE NOW – www.feiawards.org before it’s too late…”