By Lisa Engel
Leopoldo Palacios is a horse sport personality easily recognized around the world. An FEI ‘O’ course designer, Leopoldo set the tracks at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was the course co-designer for the 2008 Olympic Games with Steve Stephens. As a course designer, Leopoldo has officiated at international competitions in more than 35 countries. An architect by trade, he’s a former competitor who was named Venezuela’s Rider of the Year in 1971 and 1972. In 1976, he began working as a course designer and, in 1993, earned his Official International Course Designer status from the FEI, the highest level of achievement.
Where do you live?
Caracas, Venezuela, but I really don’t live anywhere. I live on American Airlines and all the hotels. For 40 weeks out of the year, I’m on the road as a course designer, technical delegate and other roles in the industry.
Do you live in a house or on a farm?
I live in a house in Caracas, but I have a 3,000-acre farm with my brother about five hours away from Caracas. We’ve been farmers all of our lives and we raise sugar cane, cattle and rice.
What’s your favorite vacation getaway spot?
When was your last vacation?
I was home in January for one week and in March also. For one or two of those days I went to the farm.
What one item in your wardrobe best personifies you?
My hat — no doubt. I buy a lot of these hats when I’m in California because they get destroyed fast in my luggage. But I wear them as much as possible.
What piece of jewelry best personifies you?
I only wear my family crest ring. My family is one of the oldest families in Venezuela. I’m related to Simon Bolivar, El Liberator (The Liberator), who’s considered the George Washington of South America. He was a great general and liberated Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama six generations ago. I have a lifelong commitment to my country. My father was even mayor of Caracas.
What was the last movie you saw?
I only watch movies on the airplane. I think I may have watched a James Bond movie on a plane about a month ago.
What’s your favorite charity or nonprofit organization?
Just World. I’ve been on the Board of Directors since its inception.
What’s your drink of choice?
Scotch with soda.
What’s your favorite timepiece?
I like the Apple Watch.
What type of car do you drive?
A Fiat Abart 500. I keep it in Wellington. In Venezuela I have a very low profile, very old Chevy.
What’s your favorite airline?
American Airlines. I fly a lot. I’ve already flown more than 5 million miles. American Airlines routes and schedules are very useful for what I do.
What was the name and breed of your first horse?
An Argentinian horse named Tacarigua. It’s the name of a lake in Venezuela. Every horse I breed I name for something in Venezuela. I breed them in Mexico and have one foal a year.
What’s your favorite trait in a person?
Describe yourself in three words.
Perfectionist, honest, family
If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be and why?
Venezuela — I love my country.
What’s the most frequent charge on your credit card?
Restaurants, particularly steakhouses.
What’s your favorite credit card?
What’s the best feeling in the world?
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
If God gives me 10 years, still in the horse business.
Besides horses, what are your hobbies?
I have a grandson and granddaughter who are good golfers and I love to follow them.