Two U.S. athletes, dressage rider Christian Simonson and jumper Mimi Gochman, are among the nominees for this year’s FEI Awards. Both were nominated for the Longines FEI Rising Star award, which “spotlights young talents who have already left their mark on the equestrian landscape.”
That is one of just four categories featured in this year’s awards. Online public voting for the winners of each begins today and continues through Oct. 22. This year’s other award categories are the Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete, the Cavalor FEI Best Groom and—new this year—the Pivo FEI Inspire award. The Pivo FEI Inspire Award unites elements from two former categories, the FEI Solidarity Award and the FEI Against All Odds Award. As the name suggests, the award has been designed to showcase the incredible spirit and determination of individuals who serve as role models and show that anything is possible. It is sponsored by Pivo, which became the FEI’s official technology training partner earlier this year.
The nominees in the Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete category are:
• Steve Guerdat (Switzerland), fresh from a triumphant victory at the FEI Jumping European Championship in Milano, Italy
• Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl (Germany), an undisputed powerhouse in dressage, who has a series of gold medals to her name including a double gold at the FEI Dressage European Championship 2023 in Riesenbeck, Germany.
• Rosalind (Ros) Canter (Great Britain), who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world and boasts an impressive list of wins in 2023, including the prestigious Badminton CCI5*-L (England) title, and double gold at the FEI Eventing European Championship in Haras du Pin, France.
• Marijke Hammink (the Netherlands), who holds the top position in the FEI Driving World Ranking Pony Four-in-Hand, and had an exceptional year with 11 consecutive wins throughout the season, including individual and team gold at the FEI Driving World Championship for Ponies four-in-hand in Oirschot, the Netherlands.
Nominees in the Cavalor FEI Best Groom category, which celebrates the unsung behind-the-scenes heroes are:
• Emma Uusi-Simola (Finland), who works for Guerdat.
• Sarah Charnley (Great Britain), who grooms for Canter.
• Danny Ingratta (Canada), a devoted groom for Ian Millar’s show jumping family at Millar Brooke Farm.
• Sofia Flodin (Sweden), who is responsible for the well-being of German dressage star Mathias Rath’s horses.
Nominees for the Longines FEI Rising Star category are:
• Christian Simonson (United States), who at age 21 has made waves in dressage this year.
• Rodrigo Storani Saliba (Brazil), who at 20 years old is already proving himself a force to be reckoned with.
• Quentin Jabet (France), a 20-year-old vaulting senation
• Mimi Gochman (United States), a 19-year-old jumping prodigy
Nominees for the new Pivo FEI Inspire category are:
• Valeria Bonfiglio (Italy) who proves that passion and determination are not a number. At age 54, Bonfiglio entered her first endurance event, and then took her first top placement in a 160km ride at 57.
• Jennie Sharpe (Great Britain) who defied medical expectations after being diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome and made a triumphant return to the saddle despite physical challenges.
• Federico Fernandez Senderos (Mexico) who, despite severe burns and vision impairment sustained in a plane crash, competes successfully at the five-star level in jumping.
• Polina Shovkova and Kateryna (Katya) Panasenko, the Ukrainian vaulting team who fulfilled their dreams of competing at the FEI Vaulting World Championship for Juniors despite the war raging in their country.
The public have until Oct. 22 to cast their vote for the 16 shortlisted candidates from 13 countries.
Established in 2009, the FEI Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that are making an outstanding contribution to the progress and excellence of equestrian sport, both in and outside the arena. Learn more about the program here. The winners will be flown to the FEI Awards Gala, taking place Nov. 21 in Mexico City.