British journalist Pippa Cuckson has received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism for her reporting of the scandal surrounding endurance in the Middle East.
The award was announced by the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists.
“Cuckson has long been a credit to her profession, but it is her intrepid reporting of the scandal surrounding the endurance sport in the Middle East for which the bureau wishes to recognize her with the award for 2013,” it said in a statement.
The award was established in 2012 to honor members of the equestrian community for outstanding contributions to the industry.
Cuckson’s career has included 20 years on the editorial team at Horse & Hound magazine, latterly as deputy editor.
Following a seven-year break working in the racing industry, she returned to journalism as a freelance writer in 2009, contributing regularly to The Daily Telegraph, Horse & Hound, Horse Sport International, and Chronicle of the Horse.
Cuckson’s concern about the high rate of horse fatalities, injuries and doping cases in Middle East endurance goes back to the late 1990s, when she was deputy editor of Horse & Hound.
She attended the endurance debate at the FEI open forum in 2012 and discovered that things had become significantly worse in the last decade.
She carried out an investigation that resulted in a series of stories that led the way in the reporting of the issue.
Her inquiries included days spent reading through FEI Tribunal reports on doping cases from the United Arab Emirates. She found that a significant number of cases were linked to stables owned by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, or his immediate family.
Cuckson does not view her commitment to the issue as a crusade.
“I am just doing what any news reporter ought to be doing, because this issue provides a snapshot of the two issues that will ultimately destroy equestrian sport as we know it – our responsibilities to horses when we use them as a piece of sporting machinery; and how the moral compass of stakeholders seizes up when they get a sniff of big money.”
Cuckson will be presented with the award at the alliance’s general meeting during the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.