12 stars of Christmas: model and medallist — why this showjumper needs to be on your radar

Over the 12 days of Christmas this festive season, we are shining a light on up-and-coming talent across the disciplines. These are people you really need to keep an eye out for in 2019...

Belgian showjumper Nicola Philippaerts is fast becoming one of the leading riders on the international circuit, and he’s still only 25. Here are nine weird and wonderful facts you need to know about this talented young horseman.

1. He is the son of the legendary showjumper Ludo Philippaerts, who competed at four Olympic Games, and his uncle and cousin are also top level riders. He has a twin brother Olivier, who is also a leading name in the sport and they are the eldest of four boys. Their mother competes successfully in dressage.

2. Nicola is currently ranked 16th in the world.

3. He is also a fashion model, promoting the clothing range of Swedish fashion chain H&M, who sponsor his team of horses.

4. Nicola finished 14th individually at the 2018 World Equestrian Games on the brilliantly named H&M Chilli Willi.

5. He was a successful rider in the pony, junior and young rider ranks, winning European bronze in 2010, team gold at the Youth Olympics and won both team and individual gold in the young rider European championships in 2011.

6. Nicola won his first grand prix on the Longines Global Champions Tour in July of this year at Chantilly, and followed up just weeks later with his second victory in Estoril. He qualified to compete in the inaugural Super Grand Prix in Prague earlier this month.

7. Nicola says that the most important thing he has learned from his father is to be patient with horses and to take your time with them.

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8. At school, Nicola was also a keen footballer, tennis player and loved swimming, but eventually decided to concentrate on his equestrian talents instead.

9. If he wasn’t a showjumper, Nicola says he’d still be involved in the sport as a trainer or coach.

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