This week, USEF released its nominees for the 2022 Horse of the Year and Equestrian of the Year Awards.

Voting is open now for the nominees, who will be announced at the 2023 Pegasus Awards Dinner for Equestrians on January 12, and the SmartPak/USEF Horse of the Year Awards Dinner Celebration January 14, both in Lexington, Kentucky. You can find the full list of nominees here, and vote on your favorites through 11:59 p.m. ET on December 29, 2022.

My off-the-cuff (very biased) reaction? Despite a shocking lack of show jumping nominees—only Kent Farrington’s Orafina made the list—I feel there is one, very big omission to this year’s group, which included more than one horse and rider from eventing and dressage, as well as two hunter nominees. (Don’t @ me.) But because we all know riding is hard and there is no use comparing piaffes with fill and triple bars, let me get right to my point.

Where is HH Azur?

The now 16, soon-to-be-17-year-old BWP mare under McLain Ward is no stranger to Horse of the Year Awards, having been nominated in 2016—when she won a Team silver Olympic medal in Rio—and winning in 2017, the year she and Ward took home the FEI Jumping World Cup Finals Championship in Omaha, Nebraska. You know, way back when Twitter was still a twinkle in Elon Musk’s eye.  

But besides her laundry list of accomplishments, including, ah hem, 42 podium finishes and more than $3.6 million in total prize money, there is one very good reason HH Azur (a.k.a “Annie”) should be in contention. The year of 2022 is shaping up to be on-par with Annie’s best-ever.

In fact, according to Jumpr App, her average clear-round percentage is just as strong now as it was during her career-high years of 2016 and 2017, jumping clear 50 percent of the time. 

That’s not to take anything away from the brilliant Orafina and Farrington, who currently lead the FEI’s Combination in Jumping standings for the U.S. in seventh place. BUT. According to Jumpr, Annie is currently the top-ranked horse in the last 30 days in terms of prize money, thanks to her victory and cool €413,313 prize earnings this month in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix of CHI Geneva.

Back in May, after her victory in the $200,000 Empire State Grand Prix CSI4* at Old Salem Farm in New York, Annie was still posting an incredible clear round record of 70 percent at the 1.60m height (that’s that 5-foot-2-inches, or a one Danny DeVito in a hat for those playing along at home).

Since that time, her percentage has dipped slightly to 56 percent, but it’s clearly not hurting her performance. Annie and Ward have since added two more 1.60m wins at Spruce Meadows and CHI Geneva to the list, as well as a third-place podium finish in the 1.65m €1.25 million Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix. 

Oh, and did we mention she’s only jumped in nine ranking classes since May? (The much-younger Orafina, for comparison’s sake, has competed in more than three times that amount). Why? Because the mare is 16 years old. She’s the Chicago Cubs at the 2016 MLB World Series. She’s Tiger Woods on the 18th green in the 2019 Masters at Augusta. She’s the Buffalo Bills + Josh Allen right now. 

Rocky Balboa’s got nothing on this girl, and while she may not be a Horse of the Year nominee, we are still holding out hope for another valiant Annie return in 2023.

Until then—or until write-in ballots become a thing—this fan girl will be waiting with bated breath for each and every opportunity we get to see her in action.