William Fox-Pitt: All You Need to Know
A regular number 1 in the eventing world, stables owner, husband, father – is there anything William Fox-Pitt can’t do? He’s made his name as one of the best British riders of all time throughout his more than 30-year career. After suffering a bad fall last season, he’s back in the saddle again, ready to compete for the rest of 2016.
We’re honoured to have him on Team Musto, as an ambassador for our equestrian line. As he continues another busy season, here are seven things you need to know about William Fox-Pitt.
1. He’s been at it a long time
William started riding as a young child, taking after his parents, Oliver and Marietta, both of whom competed in eventing. He began eventing when he was 15, competing in junior riding events throughout his teen years. By age 25, he was a regular member of the senior British team.
2. He’s one of the very best
He has a reputation for being humble and approachable, but we wouldn’t blame him for having an ego – he’s achieved an enormous amount. He was the first British rider to become eventing’s World Number 1 (in 2002, 2009, 2010 and 2014), and has medalled at three Olympic games as part of the British team. He’s won individual and team medals at the World Equestrian Games and the European Championships. He’s the only rider to ever have won five out of the six CCI****’s worldwide – Burghley, Badminton, Luhmühlen, Rolex Kentucky and Pau. He’s been the British Number 1 eleven times. And those are only some of his top results.
3. His team is crucial
William has built a loyal, longstanding team around him, including his head groom, Jackie Potts. She’s worked with him for 24 years, winning several industry awards in the process. William has described her as “a huge support to me, always loyal…so dedicated and professional.” Her deep connection with and care for his horses has helped him throughout the highs and lows of his career.
4. He’s had some incredible horses
From Chaka who gave him his first four-star victory in 1994 to Cosmopolitan II who was his first Olympic horse in 1996, William has had some powerhouse horses. One of his current horses, Chilli Morning, became the first stallion to win Badminton in 2015. His most famous horse, however, was Tamarillo, an Anglo Arab gelding who won his first Badminton title. He helped William medal at several major competitions including the 2004 Olympics, and earned 1,636 British Eventing points throughout his career. His bold and unpredictable personality made him especially popular with fans. He retired in 2009 and was put down in 2015, aged 23. His genes still live on; he was cloned to create a colt named Tomatillo, who will be used to breed future horses.
5. Horses are a family thing
William has a lovely family life with his wife Alice Plunkett and four children, Oliver, Thomas, Chloe and Emily. Alice is a former eventer herself and a current Channel 4 racing host. Their children share the family passion for horses, which William loves. He’s said that his greatest moment was “in the school with my little boy, Oli, in front of me going for his first ride.”
6. He’s a tough guy
Eventing is not without its dangers – to both horses and riders – and William is no stranger to these. At Badminton in 1992, his horse broke its neck and had to be put down, causing public outcry. He’s suffered several falls, perhaps the worst of which was last year at the World Young Horse Championships in France. With serious head injuries, he spent a month in an induced coma before returning home to recuperate. Despite what could have been a career-ending fall, he’s made a full recovery. In March, he was cleared to return to competition, starting with Burnham Market, and he is now back in the saddle, training and competing.
7. He’s trained Madonna
If his riding achievements aren’t cool enough, what about training the ‘Queen of Pop’? When Madonna, a keen horsewoman in her spare time, wanted to improve her skills, she called William to find out if he could train her. He has described her as “passionate about her riding” and her children joined his eventing club as well.
Here are a few extra facts to know if you want to be the ultimate Fox-Pitt fan:
- First horse’s name: Mini Monster
- Pets: two dogs named Turtle and Poppy, a cat named Puddypuds, a lizard, and a rabbit
- Hobbies: Rare-breed chickens, fishing
- University degree: French at Goldsmiths
- Favourite pudding: apple crumble
- Favourite stables: Bramham Park Stables
- Favourite equestrian kit: Albion saddle, Parlanti boots and Musto everything