• Genk, June 22, 1963
  • Veronique, 1990
  • Olivier and Nicola (°1993), Thibault (°2001) and Anthony (°2003)
  • Meeuwen-Gruitrode (Limburg)
  • 1992 (7th), 1996 (20th and 13th, in team), 2000 (4th) and 2004 (4th and 6th, in team)
How it all began...

Unconditional love for horses: it’s exactly what Ludo grew up with. As a toddler, he was always to be found in the family stables, heavily impressed by his noble four-legged friends. Ludo immediately experienced how close the bond between a human and a horse could be. Father Antoon ‘Toine’ Philippaerts, a welcome guest at the Landelijke Rijvereniging (the national equestrian association in Belgium), made sure of this. He used to lift little Ludo up to sit in the saddle. It represented the first meeting between a horse and a child destined to become a revered rider and Olympian.

Together with his brother Johan and sisters Greet and Rita, Ludo learnt the ABCs of horse riding at Lustige Dravers in Genk. Ludo shone with natural talent and, at the age of twelve, became the provincial jumping champion in the highest category, with his horse Gamin.

It was the first victory in a long career full of prizes and excellent performances. A year later, Ludo was in the same ranking at the National Titles – this time with Romanus (f. Lutteur).

A flying start

The promising young rider continued to set new standards. In 1979, with the horses Robber and Terrible (f. Buenaventura), he ventured into the highest class for dressage and jumping at the national championship in Wachtebeke. Ludo was victorious.

During this period, representing the Landelijke Rijvereniging, Ludo notched up a number of victories. He was National Champion in dressage three times and jumping twice – always in the highest leagues.

In 1980, with Vandour (Buenaventura x Flügel), he also added the Belgian title for five-year-old horses to his name, performing at Gesves, near Namur. Ludo’s career was off to a flying start.

A competition stable of his own

The early 1980s. Ludo left the former BGLSR behind him, enrolling as a junior at the Koninklijke Belgische Ruitersportfederatie (also known as the KBRSF, this is the royal Belgian federation for equestrian sports). Ludo has many memories of many excellent performances from his days with the KBRSF. The one that stands out most was at the European Championships in the Swiss town of Aarau, in a period when his stall of faithful competition horses included Sabine (f. Flügel), Vandour and the inaptly named Terrible. 

The years flew past. The junior rider became a senior. Ludo drew a stable of strong competitors together with great love, peace and with reliable guidance. Slowly but surely, he came to broader attention in the equestrian world. This began with Alkenaar (f. Alkenaar). The horse accompanied Ludo at his international debut at the Jumping van Brussel in 1986. Colonel (f. Tamara) and the young Darco (Lugano x Codex) also played a significant role, a sure sign of things to come.

Recognising class

Once more with Alkenaar, Ludo climbed to the eighth place in his first World Cup competition in Antwerp, 1986. The international jumping world was impressed by Ludo’s form. The appreciation grew in Belgium too. ‘Ludo Philippaerts: revelation at Jumping Antwerp’, was the headline of a sporting newspaper.

In the same year, he was a part of the Belgian National Team for the first time. Another top-class competition. Fast forward to 2009: Ludo looks back on his 105 performances at the Nations Cup and the eight victories they delivered.

Here comes Darco

In 1987, Ludo and his horses performed above and beyond what might be expected. It was to be the run-up to a key year in his career. In 1988, the dream-duo of Philippaerts-Darco sprang into prominence. Darco, the legendary stallion from the stables of Tinus Paesen in Peer, gave massive momentum to Ludo’s career. ‘I feel great with Darco,’ Ludo explained to the newspapers. And this was clear to see from the results.

In 1988, Ludo won the first Grand Prix in Chaudfontaine with Alkenaar. This was followed up with the Grand Prix at Dunkirk, with Dorothée (Flügel x Codex). It was then time for Darco. At the Grand Prix in Rotterdam, Ludo finished in third place, but the true high point was to come in the busy winter season ...

Ludo and Darco took part in the international jumping competitions in Maastricht and Amsterdam, picking up World Cup points with fifth place in Brussels. The team then celebrated the end of the year in the most wonderful way possible: a World Cup victory in the Jumping in London. It was impossible to talk about Ludo without mentioning Darco. And vice-versa. Later in his career, Ludo achieved further success with the sons of the champion steed. What a lineage!

Results 1988
1GPChaudfontaine, BelgiumAlkenaar
1GPDunkirk, FranceDorothée
1World CupLonden, United KingdomDarco
3GPRotterdam, NetherlandsDarco
5World CupBrussel, BelgiumDarco


Darco-mania strikes!

1989. Ludo and his stallion Darco continued to perform at dizzying heights. And after a World Cup victory in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Darco-mania was complete. Lovers couldn’t keep their eyes off the graceful horse.

Even the Dutch investment group Optiebeurs was bitten by the bug. The result? A promising sponsorship deal. With this, Ludo acceded to a highly select group of the most skilful riders. Some even continue to jump at the very highest levels today.

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International fame

Ludo’s star continued to rise: in Belgium and on the international circuit. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the World Cup Finals in Tampa (Florida), left horseshoe-shaped prints behind him at the European Championships and became a regular in the Belgian National Cup Team.

Supporters were anxious to see Ludo shine. There were so many that they even begin to fill coaches and buses. With a little luck, they were able to witness Ludo’s first Nationals Title in Bavikhove: he achieved the highest score with Vanna (Echo de Thurin x Codex).

Results 1989
1World CupDen Bosch, NetherlandsDarco
1GPKapellen BelgiumDarco
1GPGesves, BelgiumDarco
1Belgian ChampionshipBavikhove, BelgiumVanna
1Nation's CupLanaken, BelgiumVanna
4World CupAntwerpen, BelgiumDarco
4GPKopenhagen, DenmarkFidelgo
4GPLanaken, BelgiumDarco
5World CupParijs, FranceDarco
5World CupBrussel, BelgiumDarco
8World CupHelsinki, FinlandVanna
13World Cup FinalTampa, Florida, United StatesDarco
15European ChampionshipRotterdam, NetherlandsDarco
The Olympics await

In 1990, Ludo was further reinforced by Fidelgo (Voltigeur x Codex), another winner. Of course, the performances with Darco continued. The highlights? A fourth place in the Grand Prix at Aachen and a sixth place at the World Championships in Stockholm.

In 1991, Ludo further confirmed his status as a top-class rider. With Adora (f. Pion), he scored his second Belgian Nationals Title. And with Fidelgo, he was victorious at the World Cup in Mechelen.

1992 dawned: the year of the Barcelona Olympic Games. With his faithful stallion Darco, Ludo departed for the city of Gaudí. They jumped their way to seventh place in their class. Ludo drew plenty of attention with his first Olympic performance.

Results 1990
1GPLommel, BelgiumDarco
1GPChaudfontaine BelgiumFidelgo
1GPGesves, United KingdomFidelgo
2GPCalgary, CanadaDarco
2GPOberanven, LuxemburgFidelgo
2GPMaastricht, NetherlandsFidelgo
3World CupGoteborg, SwedenDarco
4GPAken, GermanyDarco
6World ChampionshipStockholm, SwedenDarco
7World CupDen Bosch, NetherlandsDarco
8World CupAntwerpen, BelgiumDarco
8GPBerlin, GermanyFidelgo
9World CupAmsterdam, NetherlandsDarco
9GPParis, FranceFidelgo
10GPBordeaux, FranceFidelgo
11World Cup FinalDortmund, GermanyDarco


Results 1991
1GPEindhoven, NetherlandsFidelgo
1Belgian ChampionshipBavikhove, BelgiumAdora
1World CupMechelen, BelgiumFidelgo
2GPStuttgart, GermanyFidelgo
2GPRoyan, FranceFidelgo
3World CupAntwerpen, BelgiumDarco
5GPBiarritz , FranceFidelgo
5GPKnokke Zoute , BelgiumFlinte
5GPBirmingham, United KingdomFidelgo
6GPGoteborg, SwedenDarco
6GPKapellen, BelgiumDarco
8GPZuidlaren, NetherlandsFlinte
8GPParijs, Champ de Mars, FranceFidelgo
19European ChampionshipLa Baule, FranceDarco
Results 1992
1GPLuxemburg, LuxemburgFidelgo
2GPOberanven, LuxemburgFidelgo
3World CupGoteborg, SwedenDarco
3GPBiarritz, FranceFidelgo
5World CupParis, Bercy, FranceDarco
5Victor LudorumAntwerpen, BelgiumFidelgo
5GPLa Baule, FranceDarco
5GPEindhoven, NetherlandsFidelgo
6GPHelsinki, FinlandFidelgo
7GPGoteborg, SwedenDarco
7GPRome, ItalyFidelgo
7OlympicsBarcelona, SpainDarco
7World CupMechelen, BelgiumDarco
8World CupHelsinki, FinlandFidelgo
8GPParis, Porte de Versailles, FranceDarco
9World CupDen Bosch, NetherlandsDarco
10GPBerlijn, GermanyDarco


Darco says goodbye to the arena

Darco was starting to feel the effects of ageing. His last great performance? Third place at the Grand Prix in Rotterdam early in 1993. At the Jumping van Mechelen in 1993, Ludo and Darco performed together for the last time. Darco then waved goodbye to the competitive arena.

Darco moved into stables at Tinus Paesen’s Stoeterij Lindehof. This was not so much an ending as a new beginning: the horse continued to benefit the equestrian world, offering his strong genes as a stud horse. Darco passed away in 2006, but lives on in his countless offspring. Horses with a great pedigree, truly reminiscent of their father in them.

Results 1993
3GPRotterdam, NetherlandsDarco
5World Cup FinalParis, Bercy, FranceDarco
5GPOslo, NorwayFidelgo
6GPCannes, FranceFidelgo
6World CupHelsinki, FinlandFidelgo
8GPRome, ItalyFidelgo
8GPHickstead, United KingdomDarco
10World CupDen Bosch, NetherlandsFidelgo
10GPKapellen, BelgiumDarco
19European ChampionshipGijon, SpainDarco