William Fox-Pitt obviously needs no introduction, but there are perhaps a few things you might not know about him. To find out more, don’t miss the latest issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out today (27 June), to read our exclusive interview with him…
1. He’s planning to breed three foals by three of his five-star winners — one of which was gelded years ago, and another has died. He already has one by Pau winner Oslo, one coming by the stallion Chilli Morning and has pencilled in one by the clone of Tamarillo (Tomatillo), all out of thoroughbred mares.
2. There’s unlikely to be a future Mr Fox-Pitt eventing at top level. Out of his four children — Oliver, Thomas, Chloe and Emily — only the girls are interested in riding.
“We make the boys do a bit, but they aren’t keen. The girls love it, particularly Emily, who’s four. I can see myself in my Zimmer frame walking round Badminton!”
3. He says he makes even tall horses look small — his five-star ride Little Fire is 17hh.
“I’m a good 6ft 5, but I don’t admit to it. And now I’m 50 I hope I’ve started shrinking.”
6. He turned down the ride on his now five-star campaigner Oratorio at three — “I didn’t think I’d still be riding when he was at his peak.”
7. Side effects from his accident in 2015 are still a challenge.
“The doctors said it would take five years to recover completely, and it hasn’t been four yet, so I’m just normal. My memory is still slow; I’m forgetful, particularly with names. I have to make word associations and write things down.”
8. He really likes his sleep.
“Ideally, I’ll have 10 hours. By 10pm I’m ready for bed, and getting up before 7am is hard. I can totally do an early start, but I’ll sleep in the lorry.”
9. He hates owlholes and has a “personal vendetta” to get them banned in his capacity on the FEI committee.
“The only thing owlholes do is make a horse duck, and that has to be wrong. Jemima Johnson was killed at an owlhole; I was nearly killed at one.
“I still have to school over them and all the young horses duck twice, but they learn by the third time. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m jumping them for the sake of sport. But I do think we’ll get rid of them.”
10. He’s a big fan of Tamarillo’s clone.
“They don’t look identical, but he’s really nice. Tamarillo had a very squeaky, girly neigh, and the clone is identical. That voice was unique, and now it’s in another horse — that’s weird.
“I’m disappointed I’m not riding him, but he’s only 15.3hh and I make him look like a Shetland, a joke — Tam was 16.2hh. But Tomatillo has a lot of ability and it’s fun, exciting and romantic.”
11. He has a “poultry habit” — breeding chickens.
“I love my chickens, they’re my therapy. We get five eggs a day.”
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday