USET Foundation Awards Presented to W. James McNerney Jr., Zayna Rizvi, and McLain Ward | USET Foundation

USET Foundation Awards Presented to W. James McNerney Jr., Zayna Rizvi, and McLain Ward

The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation presented the organization’s three most prestigious awards to W. James McNerney, Jr., Zayna Rizvi, and McLain Ward during the USET Foundation’s “Victory in Versailles” Benefit Gala presented by Lugano Diamonds held on January 19, 2024, at Five Rings Farm in Wellington, Florida.

Zayna Rizvi Named Recipient of Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy

Rizvi, 19, was awarded the 2024 Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy, which is presented annually to a junior or young rider in an Olympic discipline who exemplifies the U.S. Equestrian Team’s ideals of sportsmanship and horsemanship.

USET Foundation Board of Trustees Vice President William H. Weeks (left) and USET Foundation President, Chairman, and CEO W. James McNerney, Jr. (right) presented the Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy to Zayna Rizvi (center).
Photo by Jump Media

“Winning the Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy and having my name added to a list alongside outstanding equestrians is truly an honor,” said Rizvi of Wellington, Florida. “I very much appreciate the USET Foundation’s and the Guerrand-Hermès family’s commitment to recognizing up-and-coming U.S. athletes. This achievement has motivated me to continue setting goals and to work harder than ever to achieve them.

“I would like to thank my mentors at US Equestrian (USEF) who have played significant roles during my team experiences,” Rizvi continued. “I also want to thank my parents for supporting me every step of the way and the team at North Run for coaching me for the past eight years. Lastly, the most important thank you goes to all of the horses that have given me these opportunities. I am so lucky to continue to work with such amazing animals that always jump their hearts out for me. Without them, none of this would be possible.”

Developing through the USEF High Performance Jumping Pathway, Rizvi has successfully represented the U.S. at the Children’s, Junior, and Young Rider levels, including top placings in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Final; two individual gold, as well as team gold and silver medals, at the FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC); team gold in the Children’s division at CSIO5* Wellington; and team gold in the Junior division at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth Final in Kronenberg, the Netherlands.

“The USEF pathway programs provide amazing experiences that help young athletes learn how to ride under pressure and to work as part of a team,” Rizvi explained. “These programs taught me invaluable lessons in sportsmanship, teamwork, and performing in high-stress situations, all of which have been crucial to my growth as a junior rider. I plan to carry these lessons with me as I progress through the sport.”

In the fall of 2023, Rizvi made her senior Nations Cup team debut competing for the U.S. at the CSIO3* Vejer de la Frontera, Spain, and CSIO3* Vilamoura, Portugal. Her strong performances as the lead-off rider helped the U.S. team secure podium finishes at both competitions.

The Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Award was established in 1983 by Patrick Guerrand-Hermès in memory of his son, Lionel, an Olympic hopeful trained by U.S. Eventing Coach, Jack LeGoff, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident at the age of 18. A perpetual trophy designed by Patrick Guerrand-Hermès is inscribed annually with the winner’s name and permanently displayed at the USET Foundation’s headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey.

McLain Ward Awarded Whitney Stone Cup

The 2024 Whitney Stone Cup was awarded to five-time show jumping Olympian and Olympic gold and silver medalist McLain Ward, identifying him as an active competitor whose consistent excellence in international competition and whose standard for sportsmanlike conduct and contributions as an ambassador for the sport and for the USET Foundation exemplify the U.S. Equestrian Team’s highest ideals and traditions.

USET Foundation Board of Trustees Vice President William H. Weeks (left) and USET Foundation President, Chairman, and CEO W. James McNerney, Jr. (right) presented the 2024 Whitney Stone Cup to McLain Ward (center).
Photo by Luxeciné

One of the world’s top-ranked jumping athletes, Ward of Brewster, New York, has amassed an impressive international record throughout his career. In 2023, Ward was a member of the winning Nations Cup team at the CSIO5* San Juan Capistrano (USA), which helped the team secure a spot at the CSIO5* Longines Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain. In addition, Ward’s commitment and strong performances as the lead-off rider at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, helped the team secure the gold medal and the Olympic Games qualification. He also earned the individual bronze medal at the same competition riding Contagious.

“I’d like to thank the USET Foundation, its officers, and its supporters for honoring me with this wonderful award,” stated Ward. “The Whitney Stone Cup recognizes something that I aim for tirelessly: excellence in equestrian sport. It’s not possible to achieve such goals without the unwavering support of my family. In addition, Lee McKeever and his family have been by my side for the past 35 years. Their contributions to our achievements and what we’ve built with our horses are monumental.

“It goes without saying I’ve had the wonderful benefit of great teammates,” continued Ward. “We also owe many of our successes to our owners and sponsors. I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported the USET Foundation and believed in its vision of achieving excellence at the highest levels of the sport and have given of yourselves diligently. I also want to recognize all of our professional grooms and veterinarians past and present. Finally, to our partners, the horses. Without their reins, we could not fly and none of this would be possible. Cheers to all of the wonderful equines that have represented our country.”

The Whitney Stone Cup, which was presented to the Team by the Officers and Directors of the USET Foundation, is given in honor of the late Whitney Stone. Stone served as President and Chairman of the Board of the USET and was instrumental in the creation of a civilian team when the Army retired from competitive horse sports after 1948.

W. James McNerney, Jr. Presented With R. Bruce Duchossois Distinguished Trustee Award

USET Foundation President, Chairman, and CEO W. James McNerney, Jr. was presented with the R. Bruce Duchossois Distinguished Trustee Award. The honor pays homage to the late Mr. Duchossois by recognizing a member of the USET Foundation Board of Trustees who embodies his leadership, generosity, and outstanding character.

USET Foundation Board of Trustees Vice President William H. Weeks (left) and USET Foundation Board of Trustees Treasurer Philip Richter (right) presented the R. Bruce Duchossois Distinguished Trustee Award to USET Foundation President, Chairman, and CEO W. James McNerney, Jr. (center).
Photo by Luxeciné

McNerney of Wellington, Florida, was elected to the role of Chairman of the USET Foundation in 2019 after serving as the President and CEO since 2017 and having supported the organization in various capacities since 2012. In these roles, McNerney has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, a dedication to philanthropic endeavors, and a deep love for the sport.

“This is all about people, our teams, and our country,” said McNerney. “It’s all about coming together in a way that demonstrates that our country upholds values that people aspire to be a part of and a country that aims for excellence. I’m inspired by everyone I meet in this sport, and particularly those that strive to achieve great success. Thank you for this unexpected award. I’m highly appreciative.”

Under McNerney’s stewardship, the USET Foundation has reached new heights. He has co-chaired two major gift campaigns, driving unprecedented support for the organization’s mission, and has been a lead donor showcasing his personal commitment to the cause.

McNerney’s philanthropic efforts extend beyond his role with the USET Foundation. A testament to their commitment to the sport and their country, McNerney and his wife Haity have owned horses for U.S. Olympic show jumping athlete Kent Farrington. Several of these horses have successfully represented the U.S. in Nations Cup competition. Most recently, Farrington and Landon, owned by the McNerneys, helped the U.S. show jumping squad earn the team gold medal before claiming the individual silver medal at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.

The presentations of the USET Foundation’s three distinguished awards and this year’s “Victory in Versailles” Benefit Gala presented by Lugano Diamonds, hosted by honorary chairmen Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen, were made possible thanks to the USET Foundation’s generous donors and sponsors, including the “Victory in Versailles” presenting sponsor Lugano Diamonds, entertainment sponsor HUB Private Client, and wine sponsor Château de Reignac.


Recent Show Jumping Headlines: