Jackie Potts, William Fox-Pitt’s yard manager for the past 22 years, took center stage last night as the winner of the FEI Best Groom Award, which was presented at the FEI Awards Gala in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“It is so exciting and an absolute privilege to be here to receive this award tonight,” Jackie said. “I feel like I am accepting this award on behalf of all other grooms, who are so hardworking and equally deserving.”
Though William, this year’s leading rider in the FEI World Eventing Rankings, was not in attendance at the awards ceremony, he recorded a surprise video message that was shown during the gala.
“It is a hugely deserved and very prestigious award. Jackie has a profound empathy with horses, and horses love her. She is fantastic at motivating her team, and is generous in the sharing of her knowledge and expertise,” William said.
“There are few grooms in the world that rival her experience, and her dedication is proven by her 22 years as my yard manager. After all she has achieved in her profession, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see her being rewarded tonight.”
Jackie has groomed at four Olympic Games, four World Equestrian Games and eight European Championships, as well as numerous CCI4* and other major events around the world.
“I think it’s really important (to recognize grooms) because there’s so many girls and boys behind the scenes; it’s a team effort,” Jackie said. “Hopefully it will encourage some other grooms to make it more of a lifetime career. This is what can happen!”
The United States Eventing Association and Professional Riders Organization honored two grooms at the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this month. Hawley Bennett-Awad’s groom Sarah Braun received the USEA Groom of the Year Award in a moment that took her totally by surprise.
Stacey Driscoll, head groom for Ryan Wood, received the $5,000 Liz Cochran Memorial Groom’s Award. This award was started in 2011 and honors a groom nominated by riders and peers who has made a notable impact on a rider’s career and the wellbeing of the horses in his or her charge.
“The Liz Cochran Groom Award is my favorite award, as it acknowledges the ones behind the scenes making all that we do possible,” Ryan said. “Without Stacey, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and for her to receive this award makes me so proud. Thank you, PRO, for giving this special award.”
Thank you to all the grooms who dedicate themselves to caring for the wonderful horses that make this sport possible.
Go Grooms, and Go Eventing.