Chilli Morning was one of just a handful of eventing stallions who have competed at the very highest level of the sport, including the Rio Olympic Games, where he finished 12th with William Fox-Pitt as the highest-placed British partnership.
Initially produced up to four-star (now five-star) level by Nick Gauntlett, Chilli’s reins passed briefly to Mary King in 2012 – who found the stallion too strong for her – before the successful partnership with William Fox-Pitt was formed a few months later.
Chilli finished in the top 10 in 23 out of his 45 international eventing starts and became the first stallion to have won a European four-star at Badminton in 2015.
The stallion was bred by Rainer Schicketanz from Neustadt in Germany by Phantomic out of a Kolibri mare called Koralle. He was owned by British businessman and eventing enthusiast Chris Stone and his wife Lisa.
Paying tribute to Chilli after he died, William Fox-Pitt said: “I only had Chilli for five years, but it was a pretty cool five years. It’s sad I didn’t get a gold medal individually – it comes down to the rider letting him down as he deserved an individual gold.
“At Badminton 2015, I knew I was riding a horse who could win, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to let this go away.’ He coped with that sort of pressure and just delivered with no fuss.
“At Kentucky 2013 when we had a stop across country, I was in a stage where I thought I had to have control going to a five-star, but we weren’t really on the same team. He wasn’t being ungenuine, but me having control took away some of his confidence. He was quite opinionated and liked to be in charge more than others.
“Having Rio as a target meant I got better much quicker than I’d otherwise have done after my injury in 2015. In my mind, I never had any doubt – I was riding the best horse and I’d be in Rio, but I only made it because of the selectors’ confidence in Chilli. It was amazing to be there, but a double-edged sword – I was the highest-placed Brit, but throwing away a gold medal is a career low.
“Chilli was a one-off character. He might be exuberant or over enthusiastic or argumentative, but he never once was a worrier or unconfident. He was ultimately so secure in himself. His temperament was abnormally controlled and consistent.
“Other horses moved or jumped better or went faster, but what made him a winner was his attitude. He always believed he was in a league of his own. He was an amazing horse to look at too. Other horses were prettier, but he had that, ‘Look at me, I’m the best’.”