FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JAN. 19, 2013 — He was the first American in 25 years to win the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, highest placing U.S. Equestrian at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and winner of all four observation classes he entered. Now you can call Rich Fellers 2012 USEF Equestrian of the Year as well.
Eight equestrians were nominated for the award and Fellers was revealed as the winner Saturday night at the USEF Pegasus Awards in Louisville, KY.
Fellers' successes in 2012 made for a season few fans of show jumping will soon forget. With Harry and Mollie Chapman's small but spectacular mount Flexible (who was named USEF International Horse of the Year on Friday), Fellers was unbeatable for a good portion of the year. Their memorable stretch began in s'Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands where they bested eventual Olympic Gold medalists Steve Guerdat and Nino de Buissonnets by .64s in a jump-off for the Rolex/FEI World Cup Finals Championship. After returning to the U.S. Rich and Flexible, already on the long list for London, entered four Observation Event classes and won them all. Included in those victories were such prestigious classes as the $100,000 Hermes Grand Prix of Del Mar and the $200,000 CN Performance Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows.
The strength of all those wins earned Fellers his first trip to the Olympic Games where he led the team. With a total of five faults, and an immaculate clear effort in Round B of the individual final, he earned an eighth place finish, and the distinction of being the highest placing American equestrian at the Olympic Games.
After London, Fellers and Flexible added another big money Grand Prix to their list of accomplishments by winning the $100,000 Canacord Genuity World Cup at Thunderbird Equestrian Park.
Rich Fellers lives in Sherwood, Oregon and trains privately for Harry and Mollie Chapman. He is one of the West Coast's most decorated riders and was nominated for USEF Equestrian of the Year by virtue of winning the William C. Steinkraus trophy, presented every year to "an equestrian competing in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing, or show jumping."
A bio of Rich Fellers is available here.
Rich Fellers flight was delayed due to weather in Portland and he was not able to attend. Harry and Mollie Chapman accepted the award of his behalf.