There can be little doubt that Isabell Werth has had a commanding year in sport, and as of yesterday evening, the world’s #1-ranked dressage rider and 2017 FEI World Cup™ Champion has one more thing to smile about.

Last night at the ninth annual FEI Awards Gala in Montevideo, Uruguay, Werth was given the organization’s highest honor: the Best Athlete Award. The German superstar (48) was unable to attend the ceremony, but spoke to guests via video message.

“To receive the best athlete award is really fantastic. It makes me really proud, really happy to get this support from so many people, and [to know] that they’re really behind me and they respect what we have done in the last months,” Werth said.

“2017 was just amazing, it was a really great year. It was all [the] horses, I have to say! Of course, the highlight was Omaha, with the World Cup Final with Weihe, it was a fantastic freestyle!”

But Werth was not the only household name to be honored. Alan Davies, Valegro’s longtime groom, was recognized for his tireless efforts behind the scenes on behalf of dressage stars Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, and was presented with the FEI Best Groom Award. Davies, 48, was visibly moved by the public support for his dedication, commitment, and hard work, saying, “Words can’t describe how I feel, it’s just amazing!”

Also among last night’s winners: Ireland’s Harry Alan, the younger brother of show jumper Bertram Allen, and a double gold medallist at the FEI European Pony Championships in Kaposvar, Hungary last August. Harry, 16, was recognized with the Longines Rising Star Award for his numerous outstanding performances throughout the year. Presented by the FEI’s top partner, Longines, this award celebrates youth, talent, determination and the stars of tomorrow.

Australia’s Emma Booth was also commended for her strength, resilience, determination and drive as she was presented with the Against All Odds Award. Booth, 26, was left paralyzed after a traffic accident in April 2013, but hasn’t let that get in her way and is currently planning her campaign around the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Finally, the former Vice President of the Indian Equestrian Federation, Manoj Jalan, accepted the FEI Solidarity Award for the inaugural Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) project in Assam, India.

“We received over 100,000 votes and were overwhelmed with the response to this year’s Awards”, said FEI President Ingmar De Vos. “We have incredible athletes, with remarkable stories, and this year, we had the highest number of nominations from more countries than ever before, which clearly shows the universality of our sport.”

For more on the 2017 FEI Award winners, you can watch the video below. 

Photo credits: Erin Gilmore; FEI/Richard Juilliart.