Longines awards

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In collaboration with its longstanding partners, Longines awards several prizes in recognition of excellence in all things equestrian. Whether horse, jockey, athlete, race or public figure, all have a role to play in making each competition unique and truly breathtaking. The winners are honoured in ceremonies attended by representatives from across the entire profession.
­Longines World’s Best Jockey
In 2014, the extraordinary contribution of jockeys to the sport of kings was at last recognised. Each year since then, as part of a joint initiative between Longines and the IFHA, the best among them has been awarded a title: the Longines World’s Best Jockey. Based on a global ranking that records the points accrued by athletes throughout the year, this title is bestowed upon the very best of these racecourse champions. The evaluation criteria are based on the results obtained during the 100 most highly regarded international Group 1 races, according to a list established each year by the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings Committee. The winner of the title receives a Longines timepiece and a replica of the Longines World’s Best Jockey vase. This crystal vase, created by Allison Hawkes, was inspired by the Fountain of Apollo in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. It is adorned with a herd of wild horses, and each year, the name of the Longines World’s Best Jockey is engraved on it. On 9 December 2016, Hong Kong once again provided the venue for the Longines World’s Best Jockey prize-giving ceremony during the gala evening at the Longines Hong Kong International Races. It was British jockey Ryan Moore, one of the greatest jockeys of his time, who clinched a second Longines World’s Best Jockey title, after being the inaugural winner of this prize in 2014. Indeed, Ryan Moore excelled throughout the 2015-2016 racing season: he won eight of the qualifying Group/Grade 1 races, including the Longines Hong Kong Mile and Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin and the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Longines World’s Best Horse Race 2015, at Chantilly – all three timed by Longines. Moore succeeds Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori – jockey born in Italy and based in the United Kingdom – who is well known for his distinctive flying dismount after a victory on the racecourse.
Longines World’s Best Racehorse
The title of Longines World’s Best Racehorse has been awarded every year since 2013 to the top three ranked horses in the international Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. These rankings are established by international handicappers based on the performance put in by the horses at elite races. The title of Longines World’s Best Racehorse does not only honour these deserving equine champions, but also the teams behind them, thanks to whom the horses are able to combine performance and excellence at the highest level. The owner of the winning horse receives a Longines timepiece and a replica of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse vase. This crystal vase, created by a renowned French glassware artisan, is bedecked with a herd of wild horses representing power and speed and evoking a free and independent spirit. Each year, the name of the winner is engraved on the vase in recognition of their outstanding achievements. The owners of the second- and third-placed horses each receive an elegant Longines watch. In the ceremony’s fourth iteration, which was held in London on 24 January 2017 in the iconic Claridge’s hotel, American colt Arrogate was crowned Longines World’s Best Racehorse 2016. Longines had the pleasure to time his great victories throughout the year, namely at the Breeders’ Cup Classic in California and the Travers Stakes in New York. The American racehorse California Chrome ranked second, while Australian mare Winx occupied the third place. Last year, American legend American Pharoah was named 2015 Longines World’s Best Racehorse following his historical victories in the American Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Longines World’s Best Horse Race
For the first time in 2016, Longines and the IFHA presented the Longines World’s Best Horse Race. This prize is presented to the highest-rated race among the top 100 international Group 1 races, as designated every year by an international panel of handicappers. The ranking is based on the scores of the first four horses in each race over the past racing season. Last year, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was the first race to be honoured. On 24 January 2017, in a ceremony which was held in the Claridge’s hotel in London, the Breeders’ Cup Classic was named the 2016 Longines World’s Best Horse Race. Longines is proud to be the Official Partner and Official Timekeeper of this race, which attracts the best horses, breeders, trainers and owners from across the globe. In 2016, it took place at Santa Anita Park in California and was won by Arrogate, 2016 Longines World’s Best Racehorse. Craig Fravel, CEO and President of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Bryan Pettigrew, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sponsorship, received the award for the 2016 Longines World’s Best Horse Race. They were presented with an elegant Longines watch from Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, and with a commemorative frame from Louis Romanet, IFHA Chairman. They also received a replica of the trophy of the Longines World’s Best Horse Race, which represents a proud horse head. This prize rounds out the series of awards created by Longines in collaboration with the IFHA to pay tribute to the heroes of the equestrian world.
Longines and IFHA
International Award of Merit
In 2013, Longines and the IFHA decided to create an award to honour public figures for their outstanding contribution to the world of horse racing. In the same year, the prize was awarded to Irish trainer, owner and breeder Jim Bolger, while in 2014, Frenchman Alex Head, former head trainer at the Haras du Quesnay stud, received the accolade. In 2015, Seth Hancock, former President of the Clairborne Farm stud, and the late Marcel Zarour Atanacio, former Chairman of the Latin American Organization for the Promotion of Thoroughbred (OSAF), were selected to receive the Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit. In 2016, this prize has been granted to the Romanet family, one of the most active and dedicated families in the world of horseracing, at the gala dinner presented by Longines as the culmination of the 50th IFHA International Conference held in Paris.

Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, stated: “It is a particularly great honor and pleasure to recognize the Romanets’ dedication to the sport in which Longines began its timekeeping expertise more than a century ago. In 2013 Longines became the partner of the IFHA, which was already headed by Louis Romanet. Since then, we have jointly developed the sporting aspect of horseracing through a series of Awards to recognize excellence: the Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit, the Longines World’s Best Racehorse, the Longines World’s Best Jockey and the Longines World’s Best Horse Race. Through common projects, shared successes and great horseracing moments, fostered by our passion for equestrian sports, we have developed a strong friendship with Louis Romanet, who has chaired the Federation since its inception in 1994. His father Jean Romanet kept the efforts of his own father, René Romanet, and uncle, Maurice Romanet, to regulate French racing and was a strong supporter of re-building Paris’ Longchamp race course, as well as the training centre of Chantilly.
His influence extended beyond national and continental borders as he tirelessly encouraged international cooperation between racing ruling bodies. He was involved in developing the pattern race system in Europe, which provided the basis for North American graded stakes system. His vision – shared before him by his father and uncle – of reuniting the world’s horseracing stakeholders lead to the creation of the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, which is today a key annual event in the horseracing industry. As an acknowledgement of his remarkable achievements, Jean Romanet was granted several international distinctions and awards. I have a sincere admiration for the great work this outstanding man accomplished.”
Louis Romanet, Chairman of the IFHA, expressed his appreciation in receiving the Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit on behalf of the Romanet family. “This Award pays tribute to more than 100 years dedicated to the racing industry by my family through three generations represented by my great-uncle, my grandfather, and particularly my father (Jean Romanet), whose vision saw the creation of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, and the advancement of relations among racing bodies throughout the world. The opportunity to work alongside my father beginning in 1968, and to witness the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities be transformed into a strong international federation that works to grow and protect global racing is a source of great pride for the Romanet legacy. Inclusion from the major racing regions around the world has been a strong attribute of the Federation and this was formally established in 2003 with the adoption of three Vice-Chairmen who each individually represent the Americas, Europe, and Asia respectively. I am delighted to see the industry develop in these regions and to see the Asian Racing Federation, the European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation, OSAF and the Pan American Conference build racing and breeding internationally, fulfilling the objectives of my father at the first International Conference, which he chaired in 1967.”
“In 2013 Longines became the partner of the IFHA, which was already headed by Louis Romanet. Since then, we have jointly developed the sporting aspect of horseracing through a series of Awards to recognize excellence: the Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit, the Longines World’s Best Racehorse, the Longines World’s Best Jockey and the Longines World’s Best Horse Race”
Longines Ladies Awards
First held in 2013, the Longines Ladies Awards celebrate women who have continuously excelled at the highest level in the world of equestrianism and who, through their hard work and dedication, have made a significant contribution to the success of this industry. This prize commemorates the passion shared by both the recipients and Longines for the equestrian world. Previous winners of this award include HRH The Princess Royal (2016), HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein (2015), Sylvie Robert, Criquette Head-Maarek, Jing Li, Bo Derek (2014), Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Athina Onassis de Miranda and Sophie Thalmann (2013). The Longines Ladies Awards 2017 were granted during the Pan American Conference gala dinner presented by Longines on 19 May 2017 in Washington (USA) at the magnificent Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Before an audience of some of the world’s finest in equestrian sports, this prestigious prize was awarded by a special jury consisting of three leading figures from the world of equestrianism: Louis Romanet, President of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, Ingmar de Vos, President of the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), and Nathalie Bélinguier, President of the International Federation of Gentlemen and Lady Riders. This year, the Swiss watch brand is paying tribute to the positive influence and exceptional commitment of four distinguished women in the field of equestrian sports: Belinda Stronach, Michelle Payne, Georgina Bloomberg and Reed Kessler. Canadian businesswoman, philanthropist and former politician Belinda Stronach is also well known in the horseracing industry as the co-founder of the Stronach Group, which is one of the world’s largest horse track operators and suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering technology. As a major fan of the sport, Stronach wishes to modernise horseracing by developing its entertainment value both on and off the track, with the aim of engaging a new generation of fans. A true visionary, this influential woman has a string of successes to her name, and has been recognised and acknowledged for her efforts on many occasions. In 2015, the Australian jockey Michelle Payne made her mark on the horseracing industry by becoming the first female jockey to win the legendary Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most prestigious race. This historical win in a discipline traditionally dominated by men will certainly not quickly be forgotten, and will be sure to inspire many women all over the world. Professional rider Georgina Bloomberg from the USA made her own way in the world of equestrianism with numerous performances in high-level competitions, and also through her dedication to a number of charitable causes intended to improve daily life for key stakeholders in the equine universe. The youngest daughter of Michael Bloomberg, the former Mayor of New York City, puts her famous name to good use to support projects that are close to her heart. American prodigy Reed Kessler is without a doubt one of today’s most eminent rising stars in showjumping. Barely into her twenties, this rider already boasts an impressive track record of prestigious wins. She was also the youngest rider to take part in the London Olympic Games in 2012. In 2013, she received the Longines Rising Star Award for her extraordinary talent and dedication at the FEI Awards gala dinner. Today, Reed Kessler continues to build a solid career for herself. The young rider is making full use of her influential presence and reach on the web by taking part in a programme organised by the US Equestrian’s Learning Centre that has the aim of bringing equestrian sports to the general public. Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President and Head of International Marketing for Longines, welcomed the choice of recipients of the Longines Ladies Awards 2017. He paid tribute to their selflessness and great dedication to their discipline. An inspiration to us all, these women are the perfect example of elegance and, in particular, elegance of the heart, something which is very precious to the Swiss watch brand.
Born to succeed
Introducing 2016 Longines FEI Rising Star Sönke Rothenberger
2016 Longines FEI Rising Star Sönke Rothenberger is a man who likes to keep his options open. He might have been born into a family of world class dressage riders, who run a successful breeding and training yard out of Bad Homburg in Southwest Germany, but that does not necessarily mean he will follow in their footsteps. The gentle mannered Rothenberger always listens to his parents, whom he credits with being the most influential people in his life, but he is undeniably the master of his own mind. This was very much in evidence in 2009 when the European pony champion made the sudden and rather unorthodox decision of riding competitively in both disciplines, dressage and show jumping, with a little accent on “experiencing the thrill of riding over an obstacle course”. However, despite enjoying notable success over some of Germany’s famous obstacles, only four years later he reverted back to dressage when it became clear that the then six-year-old gelding Cosmo, who had been trained by his father Sven since he was four, was extremely talented and possibly his ticket to reaching that elusive Grand Prix category that every rider dreams about. “Riding a horse like Cosmo is a chance in a life-time,” says Rothenberger, who had travelled to Tokyo for the FEI Gala Awards Ceremony together with his proud parents Sven and Gonnelien. “It’s a unique chance, which I would have been foolish to ignore. However, I think that my background in show-jumping has played a strong part in our success, because Cosmo can be quite a handful. He likes to gallop and can be, let’s say, a bit exuberant. I know him well and that is part of his mentality. You could not and I would not ever punish him, as he would take it badly. I understand he needs his freedom and so we are a good match.” Rothenberger likes to think outside the box and his training methods might not always be based on the most traditional approach. And while he is a bit of an adventure junkie who is into Snowboarding and Skateboarding and who would love to ride a horse like American Triple Crown winner and 2015 Longines World’s Best Racehorse American Pharoah, very little seems to rattle his cage. In fact, when he was selected for the German dressage team in Rio de Janeiro, he was excited, but not nervous. Today, after returning with a Team dressage Gold medal, he admits: “I don’t think I really realised what was happening then. My parents both rode at various Olympics and won medals, so it’s always been part of my life, but it is only afterwards that you become aware of what it really means.”

Success at the highest level has come with an unprecedented amount of attention. Standing tall at 1.93 m, equipped with a shock of blond hair and an almost constant smile on his face, it is not hard to see why Sönke Rothenberger has become a firm favourite in the sporting world. He is not that impressed though by all the attention, realising that not everyone who seeks his friendship is doing it for the right reasons.
But he did enjoy being the only man in an otherwise all-female team. He laughs and corrects: “Don’t forget that Hubertus Schmidt was the reserve rider, so I was not quite on my own, but I do admit, it was nice to ride with the girls. And they did all look after me. We spent a lot of time together and got on really well.” He pauses and then adds: “They are all a bit older than me and kind of knew what to expect. We had lots of interviews and balls and functions since then, but my life hasn’t really changed. When I first got back from Rio, people recognised me when I went to the movies and such, but that is all now fast disappearing. What is fantastic though is that we met Ralph and Marga Westhoff through Rio, who are passionate about dressage and who are now the co-owners of Cosmo.” Nine-year-old Cosmo, who was the youngest horse to compete at the 2016 Olympics, had attracted numerous offers in the run-up to Rio, but the tightly knit Rothenberger Family managed to hold on to the KWPN gelding, who has a jumper pedigree as he is by Van Gogh out of Frühling. “Cosmo is like family,” pursues Rothenberger. “He is the heart and soul of the stud and a real clown, who amuses everyone. We don’t want to sell him. It would be like selling your dog. You wouldn’t do that either, would you?” Currently in his final year at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, where he studies International Business Administration, he knows a bit about risks and investments and says: “I’m passionate about riding and am grateful that I am able to ride a horse like Cosmo. I try not to think about risks, because otherwise I would just pack him into cotton wool and never even let him out of his box. And I’m also interested in banking. Both can go hand in hand, can’t they?” He doesn’t like to be tied down, but for a twenty-two-year-old he is remarkably focused and grown-up. A product of a family whose values are based on team work, passion and love, he is enjoying his dual career as a world class rider and student. “My parents always wanted me to have a good education and finish university,” he confides. “They are very level headed and always said that with the equestrian sport anything can happen and it’s always good to have another leg to stand on. They also said that once I have an education I can do what I want.” At the moment, thanks to determination and prioritizing, he is managing to ride and study without too many problems. So all the options remain open. Even a return to jumping, as he is eager to point out, seeing that there is a mare bred by his beloved grandfather, who is doing rather well. However, even if he is strong minded, it might just be that the very talented, exciting and progressive Cosmo will make the next career choice for him. Whatever happens though, Sönke Rothenberger is sure to do it with a great big smile. [Liz Price]
Longines Rising Star Award
As the first “Top Partner” of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), Longines is pleased to present one of the prestigious FEI Awards. Created in 2009, these honours are given by the FEI to people or organisations who make contributions to the progress and excellence of equestrian sports, both inside of and outside of the arena.

The FEI Awards are divided into five categories. The “Best Groom Award” is for a real behind-the-scenes worker and is given to a person tasked with ensuring that the horse for which he or she is responsible is treated as well as possible. The “Against All Odds” prize is awarded to a person who has pursued his or her equestrian passion despite a physical handicap or difficult personal circumstances. The “FEI Solidarity Award” is given to a person or organisation that has expanded equestrian sport to a wider audience. The “Best Athlete Award” distinguishes the athlete (person or horse) or rider/horse tandem that has demonstrated exceptional skill and taken the sport to a new level over the past year. And finally, the “Longines Rising Star Award” is an honour that is presented by the Swiss watch brand Longines, committed to offering lasting support to young talents in the brand’s chosen sports. This prize honours an athlete between the ages of 14 and 21 who demonstrates outstanding sporting talent and commitment in equestrian sports.

The “Longines Rising Star Award” was presented for the fourth time during the FEI Awards 2016 ceremony on 22 November 2016. Dressage rider Sönke Rothenberger was awarded the accolade at the event, which saw some 350 representatives of the international equestrian community – including members from the Tokyo 2020 and the FEI’s National Federations – come together in Tokyo, Japan. This German rider can already boast an impressive track record. After having won numerous individual and team titles, he recently put in a stellar first place with the German dressage team at CDIO5* Aachen 2016. Qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Sönke and his mount Cosmo were the youngest couple to take part in the dressage competitions. On this occasion, he won a brilliant team gold medal. He demonstrates a great determination and an exceptional tolerance for stress, and is considered a truly exemplary athlete within the equestrian community.

Sönke Rothenberger follows in the footsteps of the American rider Reed Kessler, the Mauritian vaulter Lambert Leclezio and the British rider Jessica Mendoza.