Dutch dressage rider Adelinde Cornelissen received the FEI’s Reem Acra Best Athlete Award at the FEI Gala Evening earlier tonight (14 November).

Adelinde was one of five winners in the FEI awards held to draw an end to the 2011 FEI General Assembly in Rio de Janiero.

Adelinde told H&H that she was “delighted and very surprised” to have been chosen and was enjoying the party, which included a Brazilian samba band.

French-woman Soraya Ourrais won the development award for her work to revive equestrian sport in Cambodia following the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror.

Miss Ourrais, who has now left Cambodia, said she was looking forward to a new challenge, perhaps in South America.

Thai eventer Nina Lamsam Ligon was this year’s “rising star”, winning the talent-spotting award for younger riders.

Nina, who is based in the US and was the Thai team’s youngest and only female rider at the 2007 Asian Games, is concentrating on Olympic qualification and said she took up the three-phase sport as she was a timid rider.

The best groom award went to Alice Gaillard of France, who has been grooming for 50 years for eventers Marie-Christine Duroy, Bruni Bouvier and Jean Teulere and young riders like Astier Nicolas, whom she accompanied to Badminton this year.

And the Against All Odds award was won by Australian Meg Wade, an endurance rider who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fall in 2009.

She has started to ride again, with help from the Riding for the Disabled Association, and trains a number of endurance horses who are completed by other riders.

Meg was unable to attend the award ceremony as her flight from Sydney had been cancelled.