Best of British as William and Chilli make Badminton history

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning on their way to winning the 2015 Badminton Horse Trials.
William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning on their way to winning the 2015 Badminton Horse Trials. © Mike Bain

William Fox-Pitt re-wrote the record books when he became the first rider in history to win a CCI4* on a stallion, jumping a magnificent clear round in Sunday’s final phase on Christopher Stone’s Chilli Morning to capture the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the FEI Classics 2014/2015.

The popular German rider Ingrid Klimke finished runner-up by just 1.2 penalties on her new star Horseware Hale Bob, and New Zealander Jock Paget was third on Clifton Lush, a great achievement on a horse coming back after a year’s lay-off for injury.

William Fox-Pitt gets hold of the Badminton Trophy for the first time since 2004.
William Fox-Pitt gets hold of the Badminton Trophy for the first time since 2004. © Mike Bain

The finale could not have been more tense, with three penalties – less than the cost of a rail down – covering the first five riders, and all attention was on the Kiwi rider Andrew Nicholson aiming to win Badminton for the first time in 31 years of trying.

Paget, lying fifth after cross-country, eased the pressure on his rivals when Clifton Lush hit the 11th fence to pick up four faults. Klimke, next into the arena, was immaculately prepared, having been competing her German Thoroughbred gelding in Jumping classes over the winter, and they produced a confident clear.

Next to go were the 2014 runners-up, Oliver Townend (GBR) and Armada, but the Yorkshireman had humorously predicted that he wouldn’t be taking home any trophies as the 16-year-old gelding is notoriously difficult in this phase. Four fences down dropped the pair to 11th.

Fox-Pitt is known for his ability to deal with extreme pressure and the generous Chilli Morning more than rose to the occasion, jumping as if on springs to record a clear and switch the burden onto the shoulders of his New Zealand rival.

As the crowd erupted, Nicholson entered on an unsettled Nereo, the 15-year-old chestnut clearly unnerved by the electric atmosphere, and when he hit the second fence it was all over. Two more rails went as well and the pair dropped to sixth place, but the New Zealander somehow managed to find a smile. “I’ll live to fight another day,” he promised.

Second place-getters Ingrid Klimke and Hale Bob.
Second place-getters Ingrid Klimke and Hale Bob. © Mike Bain

Fox-Pitt, the first British rider to win Badminton for six years, last triumphed here in 2004 on Tamarillo. “That was a long time ago, and it makes you realise how hard it is,” he said. “It was very easy to think it was all over with a rider like Andrew in front. He doesn’t make many mistakes.”

Chilli Morning will now return to stud duties and will not compete again this year. “He’s a fantastic horse with a brilliant brain and he wants to work.” Fox-Pitt was quick to heap praise on Nick Gauntlett, the rider who produced the stallion up to four-star level.

Ingrid Klimke said Horseware Hale Bob had given her a great ride in all three phases and she was keen to pay tribute to Chris Bartle, the German team trainer “because he always had faith in us”. The second placing equaled her previous best Badminton finish, on Sleep Late in 2006. “Normally Bob plays second fiddle to Escada [Ingrid’s 2013 individual European Championship silver medallist] but now he’ll have to go back and have a chat with her,” Klimke laughed.

Bettina Hoy made it two in the top five for Germany, putting up her best ever Badminton result with fifth place on Designer 10 after incurring only four faults.

Jock Paget, who withdrew his 2013 winner Clifton Promise (10th after cross country) before jumping, said he’d had “a good feeling” about Clifton Lush, a ride he took over from fellow Kiwi Joe Meyer. “He did his maximum in every phase,” said Paget. “I knew that even if he jumped clear, I wouldn’t catch the other two.”

Mark Todd rode from ninth to fourth place with just one time penalty on the German-bred Leonidas II, and was impressed with the horse’s jumping in the final phase. “He’s got such a big stride that down all those lines you’ve got to go quite steady, meaning it’s quite hard to reach the time.

“You couldn’t be too tight on the turns and I didn’t want to go too quick because he was riding so well. He could’ve been a show-jumper he’s got so much power.”

Fox-Pitt collected £80,000 for his win, with Paget taking home £40,000 and Todd £30,000. For his sixth place, Nicholson takes home £17,000.

Kelvin Bywater’s jumping track proved influential, with clear rounds at a premium.

Nicola Wilson (GBR) rose 11 places to seventh with a clear round on One Two Many; Ireland’s Aoife Clark climbed three places to eighth with four faults on Vaguely North and fellow Irishman Michael Ryan shot up from 21st to ninth with a penalty-free round on Ballylynch Adventure. Last year’s winners, Sam Griffiths (AUS) and Paulank Brockagh, were 10th.

Jonathan Paget and Clifton Lush jumped into third place.
Jonathan Paget and Clifton Lush jumped into third place. © Mike Bain

Irish breeding was also well represented, with three Irish Sport Horses among the top ten finishers: One Two Many, Ballylynch Adventure, and Paulank Brockagh.

Klimke’s second place at Badminton added to her win at Pau (FRA) last year propels her into first place on the FEI Classics 2014/2015 leaderboard and she has a good ride, Escada JS, for the fifth leg at Luhmühlen (GER) next month. Fox-Pitt, now second in the rankings, following a fourth place in Kentucky (USA) recently, is also planning to compete at Germany’s premier event, so the contest should go right to the wire at Burghley (GBR) in September.

Australian riders Sam Griffiths, Paul Tapner, and Bill Levett joined Britain’s Nick Gauntlett and French rider Pascal Leroy in receiving the Armada trophy for completing Badminton five times.

William Fox-Pitt, 45, has won 55 CCIs, including a record 14 CCI4*s: Badminton (2004 and 2015), Burghley six times (1994, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011), Luhmühlen (2008), Kentucky three times (2010, 2012 and 2014) and Pau twice (2011 and 2013). He is the only rider to have won five out of the world’s six CCI4*s. Currently the world number two, he won the FEI Classics in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014.

He has represented Britain 18 times in championships, winning Olympic team silver (2004 and 2012) and bronze (2008), world team gold and individual silver on Cool Mountain (2010) plus team silver in 2006, team bronze in 2002 and team silver and individual bronze in 2014 on Chilli Morning. He has six European team gold medals, one team bronze, two individual silvers (1997 and 2005) and an individual bronze in 2013 on Chilli Morning.

Chilli Morning is a 15-year-old German-bred stallion by Phantomic, a thoroughbred, out of a Jumping-bred mare, Koralle. He was bought in Germany as a youngster by Christopher Stone.

Images below © Mike Bain

Final Results
1 William Fox-Pitt/Chilli Morning (GBR) 39.0 + 0 + 0 = 39.0
2 Ingrid Klimke/Horseware Hale Bob (GER) 40.2 + 0 + 0 = 40.2
3 Jock Paget/Clifton Lush (NZL) 40.8 + 0 + 4 = 44.8
4 Mark Todd/Leonidas ll (NZL) 45.8 + 1.2 + 1 = 48.0
5 Bettina Hoy/Designer 10 (GER) 42.8 + 1.6 + 4 = 48.4
6 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL) 37.8 + 0 + 12 = 49.8
7 Nicola Wilson/One Two Many (GBR) 47.0 + 4 + 0 = 51.0
8 Aoife Clark/Vaguely North (IRL) 42.9 + 4.8 + 4 = 51.7
9 Michael Ryan/Ballylynch Adventure (IRL) 52.1 + 1.2 + 0 = 53.3
10 Sam Griffiths/Paulank Brockagh (AUS) 48.2 + 1.6 + 4 = 53.8

Full results

FEI Classics 2014/2015 Leaderboard (after 4 out of 6 events)
1 Ingrid Klimke (GER) 27 points
2 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 23
3 Michael Jung (GER) 15
4 Jessica Manson (AUS) 15
5 Tim Price (NZL) 12
6 Andreas Dibowski (GER) 12
7 Megan Jones (AUS) 12
8 Jock Paget (NZL) 10
9 Arnaud Boiteau (FRA) 10
10 Mark Todd (NZL) 8


This article has been written by a contributor to

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