Legendary Eventer Joins Awards Judges
For a set of awards to be considered the best, they have to be judged by the best. And there's no doubt that the exciting new addition to the judging panel of the FEI Awards is just that. Mark Todd, the New Zealand event rider often hailed as the best horseman of all time and one of the finest athletes his country has ever produced, joins a team of judges as diverse and international in its scope as both the FEI and the Awards themselves.
Chaired by FEI President HRH Princess Haya, who herself show jumped at Olympic level, the group comprises judges, competitors, organisers and sponsors from the four corners of the globe.
Eventing and show jumping Olympian and multiple medallist Mark Todd joins Dominican Republic dressage rider and judge Diana Ramos, Italian show jumping organiser Eleonora Ottaviani and German vaulting champion Kai Vorberg on the panel, along with representatives from key FEI sponsors Alltech and HSBC.
All the judges have extensive experience in the horse world on many levels, making them the perfect adjudicators for these awards, which 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 our often-underrated athletes.
• Diana Ramos
Diana is FEI chairman of Group V (central and southern American countries). Diana lives in the Dominican Republic and is an international dressage rider and judges dressage and jumping at national level. She organised the 2003 FEI Equestrian Pan American Games in Santo Domingo.
Diana said: "It is an honour to be part of the judging panel - this is a great idea to recognise the heroes of horse sport. With these awards we can applaud exceptional actions, dedication and courage, not just scores and rankings. We can show the world what horsemanship really means."
• Mark Todd
Mark's major achievements include individual gold medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and winning Badminton Horse Trials three times and Burghley Horse Trials four times. He also show jumped at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and was New Zealand's sports person of the year in 1998.
He retired to New Zealand after being based in Britain for many years in 2000, and trained racehorses, but made a successful comeback in 2008 to eventing and rode in the Olympics in Hong Kong.
• Eleonora Ottaviani
Eleonora, who was born in Milan but now lives in Switzerland, is director of the International Jumping Riders Club. Since 1996 she has been the show director of the CSI 5* at San Patrignano, and has organised international dressage and show jumping competitions, including the 2005 FEI European Show Jumping championships. In 2009 she was appointed director of Verona's CSI 5* World Cup show.
• Kai Vorberg
Kai, 27, has been FEI Vaulting World Champion twice (2004 and 2006), and is the reigning European Champion. The German vaulter's achievements within the sport have been outstanding - he has been German champion seven times, and has won 11 championship medals at World and European level.
These awards will be presented at a glittering dinner in Copenhagen on 19 November 2009. Anyone can nominate their choice for one of the five awards - and it is hoped that riders, grooms, owners, sponsors and fans all over the world will cast their votes.
The five categories are:
* Athlete of the Year - for a rider, driver or vaulter who has shown exceptional sportsmanship and ability
* 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
* Alltech Development award - for a development project, individual or organisation which has shown exceptional skill, dedication and energy in expanding the sport
* Against All Odds - for a disabled rider of any age who has demonstrated that disability is no hindrance to sporting proficiency
* Groom of the Year - for the often uncelebrated yet vitally important person who works behind the scenes
This is a unique opportunity for anyone and everyone to take part in recognising and celebrating the leading lights on the global equestrian stage.
Nominations, which can be made online via the website www.feiawards.org, close on 17 October. The winners of each category will be invited to the traditional FEI Gala dinner on 19 November held on the occasion of the FEI General Assembly in Copenhagen (DEN).