Illustrious past winners of the Awards include HRH the Princess Royal (2016); HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein (2015); Sylvie Robert, Christiane “Criquette” Head-Maarek, Jing Li, Bo Derek (2014); and Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Athina Onassis de Miranda and Sophie Thalmann (2013). Four prominent female personalities were honoured in 2017: Reed Kessler, Georgina Bloomberg, Michelle Payne and Belinda Stronach.
Reed Kessler is a young prodigy with an impressive track record: having picked up the USEF National Title in 2012 during her first senior season, she became the youngest rider to compete at the 2012 London Olympics, qualified for the Longines FEI World CupTMJumping Final in Gothenburg, represented the United States at the FEI Nations CupTM Jumping, and was awarded the Longines Rising Star Award in 2014. Reed Kessler shares her experiences and knowledge at the US Equestrian Learning Center project, which serves as an educational resource for amateur and professional riders alike. She also works as an ambassador for JustWorld International, a charity supporting education and health care in developing countries.
Professional rider Georgina Bloomberg is someone who makes use of her celebrity to help others. In addition to working closely with the Humane Society of the United States and joining the boards of Animal Aid USA and the Equestrian Aid Foundation, she founded her very own charitable initiative in 2006. Called The Rider’s Closet,
Bloomberg’s charity aims to make riding apparel accessible to people involved in therapeutic equestrian programmes.
In 2015, Australian jockey Michelle Payne inspired an entire nation – and women the world over – by becoming the first woman to win the Emirates Melbourne Cup (Group 1) in the event’s 155-year history. Thanks to the fame this historic victory afforded her, Michelle has been able to raise public awareness of the challenges faced by women in a male-dominated sport.
Her career has had its fair share of lows – she has suffered serious race-day falls and injuries. Overcoming all the obstacles in her path, she made her comeback in 2016; now a dual license holder, she became the first Australian woman to train and ride a winning horse. During this busy year, she also served as a patron of the National Jockeys Trust, which offers assistance to injured jockeys, and received the Don Award –
Australia’s top sporting prize – in recognition of her national exemplar status.
The Honorable Belinda Stronach – Canadian businesswoman, former minister and philanthropist – is also known in the horse-racing world as the co-founder and president of the Stronach Group, a world
leader in horse racing, entertainment and pari-mutuel technology. Recognised as one of the world’s most powerful women by the World Economic Forum and Fortune and Time magazines, this visionary was an MP in Canada’s House of Commons between 2004 and 2008 while also serving as Minister of Human Resources and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal. Strongly involved in public life, she has also made great efforts to facilitate social change. In 2008, she founded The Belinda Stronach Foundation with a view to developing socially innovative initiatives that would tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges – malaria, education, and the empowerment of girls and women to name but a few.
Sources of inspiration for us all, these women are perfect embodiments of elegance, and particularly elegance of the heart, so greatly valued by the Swiss watch brand.