What makes 2015 Badminton winner Chilli Morning so good?

  • After Chilli Morning's victory at Badminton Horse Trials last month (10 May 2015), Horse & Hound asked the stallion's owners, rider and eventing legend Lucinda Green what makes him so successful

    The stats

    17hh, 15yo Brandenburg chestnut stallion
    Stable name: Chilli
    Owners: Christopher and Lisa Stone
    Successes: won Badminton CCI4* 2015, World individual bronze 2014, European individual bronze 2013, 1st Bramham CCI3* 2013. 1,581 British Eventing points.

    What makes Chilli Morning so impressive?

    ‘It’s not coincidence that it’s taken this long for a stallion to win Badminton,” says Chilli Morning’s rider, William Fox-Pitt.

    “Chilli is one in a million, an astonishingly good-natured stallion. Life is tougher for competition stallions, and he’s managed it despite the handicap.”

    With European and World individual bronzes under his girth, it would be ridiculous to suggest that Chilli had not fulfilled his potential. But Badminton etched his name in history.

    “Perhaps it’s taken longer than if he were a gelding,” says William, “but he has nothing to prove now.”

    Chilli’s owners, Christopher and Lisa Stone, never considered castrating the horse that wowed them a decade ago in Germany.

    “He is just about perfect as he is,” says Lisa, who bought him with London 2012 in mind. “Incredibly relaxed and easy to handle.”

    William agrees. Although he’s “a man’s horse” to ride, he’s a doddle on the ground.
    “He is a gentleman,” he says. “He’s soppy and loves his cuddles. You could leave a child in the stable with him — although we wouldn’t. We take absolutely no risks.”

    Chilli is turned out alone in a high-fenced paddock, and led to the field in a bridle and lunge line, where he decides when he’ll be caught — “he has a sense of humour,” says William.

    But when Chilli’s blood is up, every ounce of rippling chestnut flesh shouts: “Look at me, I’m the best.”

    “He goes from sleepy to seriously strong in a moment,” says William, who rides him in a curbed gag. “It took me time to learn how to switch him on and off.

    “He’s very tough. Even when he’s tired, I can give him a nudge, and he’ll roll up his sleeves and say, ‘Let’s go’. When he’s with you, he’ll jump through the eye of a needle for you.”

    London may have come too soon, but Rio beckons.

    Continued below…

    Lucinda Green’s take on Chilli Morning’s conformation

    Overall impression
    “He looks like a racehorse here — although he moves like a warmblood,” says Lucinda Green, who knows what it takes to win Badminton.

    “Every year, he gets sleeker and fitter. He’s like an Iron Man nowadays — seriously tough.

    “Not only does he look like a thoroughbred when he’s not, he doesn’t look like a stallion when he is,” she adds. “He has the reverse of a cresty neck, which shows how you can change a horse’s shape through work.”


    “While I’d give his front 100%, his back end is slightly less impressive, but actually it reminds me again of a racehorse,” Lucinda says. “His second thigh has less width than I’d expect and his hock is not over-strong, but he is quite long from hip to hock, which often helps them jump well.

    “He has a long underbelly — from elbow to stifle — compared to his topline, which denotes scope in the stride. He has a lovely deep girth.

    “None of my Badminton winners were structurally this close to perfection — with the possible exception of George [1977].”

    Front end

    “He has the most wonderful foreleg, and in an impressive vertical line from fetlock to forearm,” says Lucinda. “I’ve learnt that power and scope starts at the front, and his is pretty faultless. His forearm is perfectly proportioned.

    “He has a lovely sloping shoulder, which helps with shock absorption and therefore soundness, as well as freedom of movement and scope.

    “He is well-built for soundness: his tendon structure is excellent — they go up wide to the knee — and his feet also look exceptional, with good heels and a straight line from foot through pastern.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (28 May 2015)

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