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Connections in ‘deep mourning’ after top showjumper fatally injured

H&M Chilli Willi dies
Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Chilli Willi at the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

Connections have paid tribute to a CSI5* grand prix-winning showjumper who was fatally injured while competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, US.

H&M Chilli Willi, ridden by Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts, was put down after sustaining a “very complicated fracture” to his left foreleg when he tripped.

A statement from the Philippaerts family said Nicola and Ludo, in consultation with co-owner Frans Lens, had to make a “terrible decision” to have the 13-year-old stallion put down.

The horse joined the Philippaerts’ yard as a seven-year-old and had much top-level success across the world with Nicola. The combination would have been in the running for a place at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

The pair were crowned national champions in 2017 and their biggest international win came in the 2018 Global Champions Tour CSI5* Chantilly grand prix. The horse’s performance also helped London Knights to Global Champions League victory that year.

British fans may also remember the pair from 2017 and 2018 London GCTs, with top-10 finishes both years, as well as jumping at Windsor 2019.

They represented Belgium at the Young Horse World Championships, as well as on Nations Cup and senior championship teams, including at the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

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After a quiet year in 2020, owing to the global coronavirus pandemic, 2021 was earmarked as his comeback.

“In January of this year he left for Wellington for three months with Nicola to prepare for the season and in the hope of becoming one of the three Belgian horses that can qualify for the Olympic Games later this year,” said the statement from the family.

“It shouldn’t have been. On Friday, March 26, 2021, the life and beautiful career of the ever motivated, eager, sometimes playful and very sweet H&M Chilli Willi came to an abrupt end. Team Philippaerts is in deep mourning.”

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