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Totilas named FEI's athlete of the year

November 8, 2010

The record-breaking season of Moorlands Totilas has culminated in the horse being named the FEI's Athlete of the Year, along with his rider, Edward Gal.

Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas. © Kit Houghton/FEI

FEI Award winners, from left to right: Michelle Tipper (GBR), Caroline Roffman (USA), Ros Spearing (GBR) and Angelika Trabert (GER). © William Tzeng

The FEI Awards were presented at a ceremony on Friday night during the organisation's General Assembly in Taipei.

Gal and Totilas broke record after record in 2009, and won three gold medals at the recent World Equestrian Games. Only a few weeks ago Totilas was sold for a multi-million dollar figure to German breeder Paul Schockemöhle.

Gal was unable to be in Taipei to receive the award, which was sponsored by Reem Acra, but said winning the award was "very special".

This is the second year the awards have been held, and the first time a horse has been recognised. There was no "Best Athlete" award last year, with main award then for "Best Rider", which was won by German show jumper Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum.

In a post in August, blogger Felicity Foxhunter noted there was no award for horses, and later urged horse sport fans to vote for their favourite horse in the Best Athlete category.

Gal was pleased to be recognised for the success of his partnership with Totilas.

"It's nice when you work hard for it and succeed. When you get an award like this it's like a 'crown' on your work," Gal said. He said that Totilas was such a special horse that it was "difficult to describe".

Gal was philosophical about the sale of Totilas, and was focusing on the young horses he had coming up. These include a sister of Totilas, whom he described as "very good".

"There are some good horses coming up, but it is difficult to find a replacement for him. When you lose a horse like that, you compare other horses to him - it's not fair on the other horses. You have to give all horses a good chance and then see how good they are," Gal said.

The FEI awards ceremony was compeered by FEI Director of Non-Olympic Sports Ian Williams and attended by National Federation delegates, equestrian stakeholders and several equestrian personalities.

FEI President Princess Haya presented the awards to all the winners.

Alex McLin, Secretary General of the FEI, said the nominations received for the 2010 awards demonstrated that the equestrian community counts many heroes. "It is an honour for the FEI to acknowledge the achievements and dedication of five people - and a horse - whose work on the equestrian stage or behind the scenes has contributed to highlighting the greatness of our sport or making it accessible."

It is the second year the awards have been held. The other four winners were:

HSBC Rising Star Award

Caroline Roffman is one of the brightest hopes of the US dressage community. The 21-year-old, who trains with Olympian Lars Petersen, won the Five-Year-Old Championships at the USEF National Dressage Championships this year on a horse she trained herself and was the youngest competitor at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions at Gladstone.

Alltech Development Award

Since 1996, Ebony Horse Club founder Ros Spearing has helped to improve the self-confidence and life skills of some of the most disadvantaged children and young people living in Brixton, south London, by giving them the opportunity to ride horses and take part in outdoor activities and educational visits.

Best Groom Award

Freelance groom Michelle Tipper started her equestrian career as a dressage rider in her native England but soon discovered she preferred grooming to competing. She worked for three years as a travelling groom for British dressage champion Nicky Barrett and has since worked freelance for international and national riders, including Paralympians.

Against All Odds Award

German Para-Dressage rider Angelika Trabert was born without legs and only three fingers on her right hand. She has represented Germany at four Paralympic Games, winning the silver medal in Hong Kong. She has won 15 medals at world, European and national equestrian championships and this year competed in the Para-Equestrian Dressage World Championships Grade II at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Despite losing her long-time partner in a tragic accident in 2005, Angelika continues to make the best of her life and helps improve the lives of others by promoting the cause of sport for people with disabilities and teaching disabled children to ride. She has been elected Athletes' Representative for the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee (IPEC) four times and regularly speaks at conferences. Angelika works as an anaesthetist at the University hospital in Mainz.



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