Baku hosts FEI Awards Gala 2014 celebration

By: Sara Rajabova

Baku has hosted grandiose FEI Awards Gala 2014, which presented by Longines.

Equestrian heroes – and a very special dog – were celebrated at the FEI Awards Gala 2014 presented on December 14.

The five winners of the “Oscars of the equestrian world” 2014 were presented with their awards by outgoing FEI President Princess of Jordan Haya Bint Al Hussein on her final day as FEI President at a dazzling ceremony in Baku’s fabulous Buta Palace.

The winners, who have made outstanding contributions to the growth of equestrian sport in 2014, are: Reem Acra Best Athlete Award – World Jumping champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED), Longines Rising Star Award – Vaulter Lambert Leclezio (MRI), Best Groom Award – Jackie Potts (GBR), groom to Eventing world number one William Fox-Pitt (GBR), FEI Solidarity – Equine therapy centre Equal Ark (SIN), Against All Odds – Para-Equestrian Dressage athlete Sydney Collier (USA) with her service dog Journey.

The FEI Awards 2014 judging panel, chaired by outgoing FEI President HRH Princess Haya, included Mary Binks, FEI Bureau Member and Chairman of FEI Group IX; George Dimaras, Executive Board Member of the Hellenic Equestrian Federation; and Betty Wates, President of the Equestrian Federation of Jamaica.

The equestrian heroes donned tuxedos and gowns for the gala dinner, which was attended by almost 350 guests from National Federations, partners, VIPs and international media.

Queen Elizabeth II also became the first recipient of the FEI Lifetime Achievement award last month as part of this prestigious FEI Awards scheme in recognition of her leading role as supporter of equestrian sport throughout her reign as British monarch. She was presented with the award at Buckingham Palace by Princess Haya.

Princess Haya was herself celebrated in a special presentation in acknowledgement of her outstanding commitment to equestrian sport and to the FEI, during her eight year term in office as FEI President.

“It is a great honor for me to be here tonight on my first official duty as FEI President,” newly elected FEI President Ingmar De Vos said at the event. “There have been a number of awards tonight, but there is someone here, a very special person, who deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Your Royal Highness, it is now my turn to surprise you with your very own special award. I hope you will wear it with pride and think of your FEI Family” as he presented her with a beautiful diamond brooch.

De Vos thanked Princess Haya for her works and contributions to the FEI.

“You have had a lasting effect on every single person in this room, on the organization, on the FEI Family and on the sport globally. You have led us to new frontiers. You had a vision and you took us on an incredible journey. Thank you once again for everything!” De Vos said.

Princess Haya was joined on stage by her brother Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, FIFA Vice President. “There is one question she always asks when she meets someone that she looks up to, but it’s a question she has never actually asked me. She asks ‘If there is someone in the past you would like to see something you have done, and they would be proud of you, who is it?’ I would say tonight that I would love our late father and late mother to come back and see you right now. They would be so proud of you.”

Brother and sister joined hands as they watched a moving video of the key moments of Princess Haya’s family life, her sporting career and love of horses, and her eight years as FEI President.

The FEI Awards were launched in 2009 to reward excellence, commitment, dedication and courage.