Like rider, like son

In 1993, the year that Ludo Philippaerts took leave from the super-stallion Darco, two new winners came to light. Not foals, but riders in the making: the twins Nicola and Olivier.

The boys were destined for the equestrian environment from the beginning. And Ludo wouldn’t be Ludo if he didn’t have ponies running around the property for the sake of his boys. Still, nothing was forced: Ludo and Veronique gave their eldest sons every freedom in choosing their own paths. Olivier and Nicola gave football, tennis and swimming a try, but by age six, it was clear the horse-riding bug had bitten them. Nicola became a member of the Landelijke Rijverenigingen (LRV), the national horse riding association, just like his father before him.

Among the best pony riders

Nicola was noticed immediately: just like his brother, he could count himself among the best pony riders in the LRV. It didn’t take long before he became acquainted with international equestrian sporting events: father Ludo allowed Nicola to participate regularly in pony trials at major competitions.

Of course, the boys grew up and ponies gradually lost their place to horses. Nicola learned from the rich experience of his father, and the harder he worked, the stronger he became. He shone in 2006, participating in Paris and Brussels and at the Belgian Championships in Nieuwpoort and Bruges. The trophies followed a year later.

Nicola was in the medals with a third place at the Limburg Championships during CSI** in Hasselt. And with Top Chiara di Luna, Nicola shone in fourth place at the European Championships in Freudenberg, Germany.

His career riding ponies came to a fitting close: no one could top Nicola’s triumphant performance at the Belgian Championships.

Olympic gold at the juniors

As a junior, Nicola racked up learning experiences one after another; all invaluable preparation for the senior circuit. The high standard of his performances proved to be an extra form of motivation: in Bruges in 2009, Nicola placed second at the Belgian Junior Championships with Nobel de Virton. He also finished with silver at the European Championships for Juniors, in Hoofddorp, Netherlands.

An Olympic gold medal? Nicola made this dream a reality when he participated with the junior team at the Junior Olympics in Singapore in 2010. A year later, Nicola achieved a bronze with the team at the prestigious European Championships for Juniors, in Comporta. Carlos V.H.P.Z. was the horse sharing in the glory.

With this victory, Nicola waved goodbye to the Juniors. It was time to join the big boys.