With the world’s best horses and riders competing for the prestigious title of FEI World Cup Champion at the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Las Vegas next April, it is vital that a world-class slate of officials be on hand to oversee the competition. Well, we are happy to report that that will be the case as an impressive slate of officials is in place and will be officially announced in the next few days.
Heading the list of officials for jumping is Kim Morrison of Canada who will be President of the Ground Jury. She will be joined by Ground Jury Members David Distler, Neil O’Connor, and Jack Robson, all of the U.S., and Sven Holmberg of Sweden. The Course Designer will be Anthony D’Ambrosio of the U.S., while Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela will act as Foreign Technical Delegate. President of the Appeal Committee will be Cesar Hirsch of Venezuela. Maria Hernek of Sweden is Overall Chief Steward, Debbie Sands of the U.S. is Chief Jumping Steward, and Kate Horgan of Ireland will be the EU Steward.
Kim Morrison (CAN) – President of the Ground Jury
Kim Morrison has been active in equestrian sport for over 25 years. She competed in four North American Young Rider Championships, and was long-listed for the Canadian Show Jumping Team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Morrison has served as a Judge and Steward, and is the only FEI Level 4* show jumping official in Canada. Morrison was President of the Ground Jury at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, was a member of the Ground Jury at the 2012 London Olympic Games, the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games, and 2012 FEI World Cup Final. Morrison has taught National Judge Courses over the past several years and was awarded 2013 Official of the Year by Jump Canada.
David Distler (USA)
David Distler has been judging around the world since 1975, and has organized national and international equestrian competitions since 1985. He became an FEI show jumping judge in 1989, and is currently the only FEI 4* rated judge in the U.S. Distler served as a member of the Ground Jury at five previous FEI World Cup Finals, three of which he was Ground Jury President, including the 2009 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. He served as a member of the Ground Jury at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong and was also on the Jury at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His most recent major accomplishment was serving as a member of the Ground Jury for the Show Jumping World Championships at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
Sven Holmberg (SWE)
Sven Holmberg has been involved in national and international equestrian sport for over 45 years as both a judge and organizer. He served as the 1st Vice President of the FEI, was an FEI Bureau Member and was also Chair of the FEI Jumping Committee until 2010. A member of the Board of the Swedish Equestrian Federation for 15 years, Holmberg is one of only two FEI 4* rated judges in Sweden. He has been involved in the organization of the Gothenburg Horse Show since 1979, where he also served as President for three FEI World Cup Finals. He was one of the key figures behind the 1990 World Equestrian Games in Stockholm, Sweden, and was a member of the Ground Jury at the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, the 2003 and 2007 European Championships, and was President of the Ground Jury at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Neil O’Connor (USA)
Neil O’Connor is a USEF and FEI 3* Judge and Steward and officiates regularly at national and international shows. He has served as President or Member of the Ground Jury at many prestigious U.S. shows such as the Hampton Classic, Pennsylvania National, Winter Equestrian Festival, Washington International, National Horse Show, and the inaugural 2014 Central Park Horse Show. Internationally, O’Connor has officiated at Spruce Meadows and the Royal Winter Fair, both in Canada. A native of Millstreet, County Cork Ireland, O’Connor now resides in the U.S., and ironically he was the Foreign Judge at the 2014 Dublin Horse Show.
Jack Robson (USA)
Jack Robson is an FEI 3* rated judge and course designer with over 30 years of experience in the industry. He has worked with the likes of Frank Chapot, Bert de Nemethy, Pamela Carruthers, and Robert Jolicoeur to name a few. He was a Member of the Ground Jury for the 2009 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals in Las Vegas, and has been either President or a Member of the Ground Jury multiple times at the Las Vegas National Horse Show, Los Angeles National Horse Show, Blenheim Equisports Shows, Del Mar International Horse Show, and Ocala Masters.
Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) – Course Designer
Anthony D’Ambrosio has over 35 years of experience in the equestrian industry. As a competitor, he won thirty five grand prix competitions at highly esteemed shows such as the Hampton Classic, International Jumping Derby, USET Show Jumping Championship, International Cup of Mexico and twice held the world record in the Puissance (1973 on Sympatico at Madison Square Garden’s National Horse Show and in 1983 on Sweet & Low at the Washington International Horse Show). D’Ambrosio owns and operates Wild Horse Ranch with his wife Michael which specializes in developing grand prix jumpers and has sold four Olympic horses. For over ten years D’Ambrosio has been a FEI 4* Course Designer and Technical Delegate as well as a member of the USEF Jumper Committee, and received the USHJA Course Designer of the Year Award in 2008 and 2010. He has created tests for horse and riders at Spruce Meadows, the Young Riders Championships and the Pan Am Trials for the Canadian Team Riders. He was the Technical Delegate for the 2009 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, and the Course Designer for the 2009 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.
Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) – Technical Delegate
Leopoldo Palacios is a one of the most highly respected and sought after course designers in the world. He is an FEI ‘O’ level and 4* Course Designer and Technical Delegate, and has officiated at competitions in more than 35 countries. He has designed courses at the highest level including the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, and is only the second person in history to have had the distinction of designing two Olympic courses. Palacios created the courses for the 1997 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the 2005 World Cup Final in Las Vegas as well as the 1991 and 1995 Pan American Games in Havana and Buenos Aires respectively. He served as Technical Delegate for the 2003 Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo, 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and the 2007 Pan-Am games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Formerly the 2nd Vice President of the FEI, Palacios is also the co-founder of the Aachen School of Equestrian Arts.
Cesar Hirsch (VEN) – Appeal Committee President
Cesar Hirsch began his equestrian career as a jumping competitor in Venezuela in 1979, and turned his interest in the sport into his full-time profession. Hirsch is an FEI 3* Judge and Steward, and has officiated at hundreds of shows for over 15 years including four Pan American Games (Winnipeg, Santo Domingo, Rio de Janeiro, and Guadalajara), Central American and Caribbean Games, South American Championships, Spruce Meadows, and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington. He was also President of the Ground Jury at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.
Debbie Sands (USA) – Chief Jumping Steward
Debbie Sands has been an equestrian professional for almost 40 years. She is an FEI 3* Jumping Steward and a USEF “R” rated judge in Hunter, Jumper, Hunter Breeding, and Hunter Seat Equitation. Her most recent accomplishment was as a Steward at the 2014 Las Vegas National Horse Show and Chief Steward at the 2014 Los Angeles Masters. For many years Sands has been an official at the Gold Coast Series, Arizona Winter Festival, Los Angeles National, and Blenheim Equisports Horse Shows.
Maria Hernek (SWE) – Overall Chief Steward
Maria Hernek is a FEI 3* Jumping Steward and conducts FEI Jumping Steward clinics all over the world. She has been the Chief Steward at the Gothenburg Horse Show in Sweden for many years, including the 2013 FEI World Cup Jumping Final. She was also an FEI Steward at the 2011 FEI European Jumping Championships in Madrid, Spain.
Kate Horgan (IRL) – EU Steward
Kate Horgan has been an equestrian official for over 15 years. She is a FEI 3*Judge and Steward, and also acts as an FEI Steward Course Director as well as the FEI General Steward for Ireland. She has officiated at many international horse shows including the 2013 FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.
If you haven’t ordered your tickets for the Finals yet, I recommend that you do so today. It’s not every year that the World Cup Finals are held in the U.S. and next April in Las Vegas promises to be an incredible event that I know you won’t want to miss!