Mexico City’s Colegio de la Vizcainas provided a stunning backdrop for the 2023 edition of the FEI Awards Gala presented by Longines, which celebrated international and home-grown winners across four categories of equestrian excellence.
Mexico City’s Colegio de la Vizcainas provided a stunning backdrop for the 2023 edition of the FEI Awards Gala presented by Longines. (FEI/Liz Gregg)
The evening saw Mimi Gochman (USA) take home this year’s Longines FEI Rising Star Award, created to recognise young athletes between the ages of 14 and 21 who demonstrate outstanding equestrian sporting talent.
The 19-year-old Jumping sensation from New York City, has already made her mark on the international stage with three senior FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ team appearances. Mimi has come into her own during the 2023 season, placing fourth in the FEI Jumping U25 Rankings and earning top three results at several CSI5* level competitions. With her sights set firmly on the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, the young Rising Star is also currently pursuing a degree at USA’s Ivy League school Brown University.
Longines International Sponsorship and Event Manager Michael Vuilleumier presented Mimi with the Longines FEI Rising Star Award and an elegant timepiece from the FEI’s Top Partner.
“Winning the Longines FEI Rising Star Award is an extreme honour and I'm super grateful to be here,” Mimi said.
“Riding means everything to me. It’s the thing I've been doing my whole entire life and for which I’m very grateful. I've always had a connection to horses. I think they're incredible animals, and I'm lucky enough to spend my time with them. This sport has taught me a lot of valuable life lessons, and I hope to continue it as long as I can. Horses are very intelligent and when you make that relationship with them, a deep relationship, they work extremely hard to win with you.”
Considered one of the best Dressage athletes of her generation, Germany’s *Jessica von Bredow-Werndl *was the recipient of this year’s Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete Award, which was presented by Managing Director of Peden Bloodstock Martin Atock. Unable to attend the ceremony in person, Jessica accepted the honour via video.
“I feel very honoured to have won the Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete Award,” Jessica said.
“Dalera is probably the most intelligent horse I've ever worked with so far in my life! She is the cuddliest version when we are in the stable and walking together, and she is a rockstar when we enter the arena. Dalera and I have a very special relationship. We love each other and we love what we are doing together. And this is something I really have to think of as a rider - How can I make my horses love me? And how can I make my horses love what we are doing?
“I always say don’t train hard, but train smart. Sometimes I think: How is it possible to feel so much love for so many animals and people? But it’s exactly what makes riding horses so special.
“I'm so sorry I can't be in Mexico tonight, but I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who voted for us. I always have to say ‘us’ because this is not only my success. It is Dalera’s and mine, and the success of my family and the whole team around us. And I want to thank all of them, and all of you, for making this happen!”
Jessica clinched her first international championship title at the FEI Dressage European Championship for Juniors in 2002, a feat she replicated in 2004. She has won the individual European Champion title an impressive six times and has taken the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final title for the past two years. With her exceptional mare TSF Dalera BB, Jessica remains an unstoppable force, dominating the FEI Dressage World Rankings, winning double gold at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and maintaining an unbroken streak of victories since then.
Emma Uusi-Simola (FIN) clinched this year's prestigious Cavalor FEI Best Groom Award, in recognition of her outstanding dedication and hard work as groom for Swiss athlete Steve Guerdat.
Over the past decade, Emma has been an integral part of Steve's team, demonstrating unwavering passion and commitment through the highs and lows of the sport. A trusted member of the Swiss team, Emma is often the groom of choice when travelling to equestrian events overseas is required. Her special bond with Steve’s horse Dynamix, her understanding of her athlete’s needs as well as her ability to anticipate and adapt to any situation has been pivotal to his success.
Receiving the award from Managing Director of Cavalor Liselotte Hamerlinck, Emma said, “I'm really pleased to get this FEI Cavalor Best Groom Award and it means a lot to me.
“Horses are my whole life. I love to work with them because they challenge me every day. All of them have their own personality, and I have to figure out how to handle each and every one of them.
“You need time to get to know the horses and it does not happen in one day. Some horses are easier and some horses are more difficult. With some of them you need two years to figure out what they like and don’t like.”
The last award of the evening was presented to Federico Fernández Senderos (MEX) who won the newly created Pivo FEI Inspire Award, in his hometown of Mexico City. 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.
Aged 19, Federico was one of just three people to survive a plane crash in which more than 50 people were killed. After months of intensive recovery and with a new take on life, Federico returned to competition and has gone on to become one of Mexico’s most well-known Jumping athletes.
Federico has participated in seven FEI World Equestrian Games™, three Olympic Games, and won a silver medal, together with team Mexico, at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo (DOM) in 2003. He has also competed at countless CSIO5* Longines FEI Nations Cup™ competitions, with wins in Xalapa (MEX) and Dublin (IRL), to name a few.
For Federico, family is his motivation, entrepreneurship his drive, and horses his passion. He is known, respected and admired by many for his philosophy of letting go of what can’t be changed, focusing on making life meaningful and always expecting that the best is yet to come.
Receiving the award from CEO of Pivo Ken Kim, Federico said: “For me to receive the PIVO FEI Inspire Award is an honour. I should be the one to say thank you for all that equestrian has done for me because it has been so important in my life.
“I'm going out every morning with passion and I try to make every day special and happy for myself and for the people whose lives I touch daily. I really think that horses are the healthiest way of taking a step back into real nature and into the basics of life. It is about interacting with the animal and not with technology or anything else. Getting on a horse heals every physical and mental pain and it’s just an indescribable moment when you’re on top of a horse.”
This year’s winners were decided by combining 50% of the public votes cast on FEI.org, and 50% of the judges’ votes. National Federations, FEI partners and stakeholders attended the FEI Awards, with well-known Mexican TV presenter Gloria Cazalda as Master of Ceremonies.
“All week during the FEI Hybrid General Assembly 2023, we have spoken about our role as governing bodies, what more we need to do to serve our sport and our stakeholders, and how we can build a better future for the next generation of equestrians,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.
“And tonight, we are celebrating the individuals who effectively inspire our decision-making process and the many discussions we have behind the scenes, so that we can provide them with the very best platform to thrive. So, this is a special night and I look forward to this occasion every year.
“Congratulations not just to our winners but also to everyone who was nominated for these Awards. And I also want to thank the sponsors – Peden Bloodstock, Cavalor and PIVO and especially our Top Partner Longines who also present the Gala evening. The FEI and Longines are kindred spirits and tonight is another example of our wonderful collaboration.
“I’m already looking forward to the 2024 edition!”
Emma Uusi-Simola (FIN) winner of Cavalor FEI Best Groom Award, Federico Fernández Senderos (MEX) winner of Pivo FEI Inspire Award and Mimi Gochman (USA) winner of the Longines FEI Rising Star Award (FEI/Liz Gregg)
Start of voting for 2023 ushers in new era of FEI Awards
Article courtesy of the FEI