Equestrian champions are taking on athletes across all sports in the Year of the Horse in bids to claim top national sports awards in the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland.
The Netherlands’ traditional Sport Gala 2014 announced its nominees on Sunday night, with equestrian heroes featuring in four of the six categories. Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin has already claimed one award and is nominated for two others, while Ireland’s teenage sensation Bertram Allen has been nominated for the Irish Independent Young Sports Star of the Year award.
Jeroen Dubbeldam, double gold medallist at the Alltech World Equestrian Games™ 2014 and the Netherlands’ first ever Jumping world title holder, has been nominated for the Best Male Athlete award. The Sydney 2000 Olympic Jumping champion will battle it out against football legend Arjen Robben, world champion in gymnastics Epke Zonderland and four Olympic Winter Games gold medallists in speed skating.
Dubbeldam and his team-mates have also been nominated in the Best Team category. The orange quartet of Dubbeldam, Jur Vrieling, Maikel van der Vleuten and Gerco Schröder claimed gold in Normandy and booked a slot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and then went on to score a sensational victory at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP) just over five weeks later.
Chef d’equipe Rob Ehrens, responsible for so many “orange-gold” medals, has also been recognised and is nominated in the Best Coach category. The former rider has steered the Dutch Jumping to multiple successes, and also helped the Eventing team secure its qualification for Rio 2016.
Another equestrian hero has been nominated for these famous awards, with Para-Equestrian Dressage athlete Rixt van der Horst, double world champion, featuring in the Best Paralympic Athlete category along with three other nominees. She collected two individual gold medals and a silver team medal in Normandy on her international debut.
Winners in each of the six categories will be selected by a jury of former Olympic athletes, coaches and sports journalists. The Sport Gala 2014 ceremony takes place at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Center on 16 December.
Dubbeldam has another nomination, as the emotional moment when his daughter Nina jumped into his arms crying after seeing her father crowned World Champion is one of 10 selected for the Sport in Beeld award. This television award for the best sporting pictures of the year is chosen by public vote and will be presented at the Sport Gala 2014.
Anky van Grunsven won the Best Female Athlete in 1994 and took the Fanny Blankers Koen all-time achievement award in 2012. The Dutch Jumping team was previously nominated for the Best Team award in 2006.
Dancing with the awards
Dressage star Charlotte Dujardin (GBR), last year’s Reem Acra Best Athlete in the FEI Awards, has already scooped the Sunday Times & Sky Sports Sportswoman of the Year award for 2014, and is now nominated for two other all-sports awards: the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) and the BT Sport's Action Woman of the Year award.
The London 2012 double Olympic champion has had an incredible year, winning two individual gold medals and team silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, and the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Lyon (FRA), where Dujardin and her dancing horse Valegro enchanted the public once again.
For the SPOTY award, Dujardin has been shortlisted by a panel of sports specialists and will be taking on an all-star cast of Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1), Gareth Bale (football), Carl Froch (boxing), Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans (skiing), Rory McIlroy (golf), Jo Pavey (athletics), Adam Peaty (swimming), Max Whitlock (gymnastics) and Lizzy Yarnold (skeleton). Nominees will compete for the public vote live on television on 14 December.
Previous equestrian winners of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award are The Princess Royal, Princess Anne (1971), her daughter Zara Phillips 25 years later, and David Broome (1960).
Dujardin has also been nominated for the BT Sport's Action Woman of the Year Award, where each candidate is supported by someone from the world of sport or entertainment. Dujardin is supported by former England footballer Michael Owen. "My daughter Gemma is a keen dressage rider and Charlotte Dujardin is one of her heroes so we have often watched her compete and for sheer control and movement Charlotte really is as good as it gets”, he said.
The public vote closes today, 2 December, and the winner will be presented with the trophy during a live broadcast on BT Sport on 10 December.
The 19-year-old Jumping athlete Bertram Allen (IRL), who has been taking the Jumping world by storm with phenomenal successes this year with the mare Molly Malone, was nominated yesterday for the Irish Independent Young Sports Star of the Year award, along with four other nominees.
“Bertram is, unquestionably, the biggest sensation in international jumping right now”, the Irish Independent newspaper said about his nomination. Allen is currently 19th in the Longines Jumping Rankings after a sensational year during which he won the Verona qualifier for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas, as well as victories in the Longines International Grand Prix of Ireland and the Grand Prix in Lummen (BEL). He was also a member of the Irish team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy, where he finished seventh individually.
In September, Allen and the seven-year-old mare Barnike became the first combination in history to score back-to-back wins at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses 2014 at Lanaken (BEL).
The Irish Independent Young Sports Star of the Year award winner is chosen by public vote, which closes on 17 December.
Photo caption: (L to R) Olympic, World and European Dressage champion Charlotte Dujardin (GBR), World Jumping champion and Sydney 2000 Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED), and Para-Equestrian Dressage double world gold medallist Rixt van der Horst (NED) are some of the equestrian athletes nominated for national all-sports awards in 2014. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)