Nicola Philippaerts: Why HH Carlos Z is the horse of a lifetime

Horse of a lifetime: HH Carlos Z
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Horse of a lifetime: HH Carlos Z 01:42

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  • Nicola Philippaerts names HH Carlos Z his horse of a lifetime

(CNN)Belgian showjumper Nicola Philippaerts is widely regarded as one of the best young riders in the world.

And a third-place finish at the 2017 LGCT Miami Grand Prix shows the 23-year-old knows a thing or two about horses.
Philippaerts has ridden many horses but -- if he had to choose -- which would be his favorite?
    "I think the one horse that stands out in my career is HH Carlos Z," Philippaerts told CNN's Aly Vance. "I think it was a very special horse for me.
    "Everything started with the juniors, until the seniors. I won my first five-star grand prix with him and I think he will always stay special for me."
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    Elite riders are used to partnering some of the world's best horses. The margins for success and failure in showjumping can be minute.
    So what was it about HH Carlos Z that set him apart from the rest?
    "I think Carlos had a golden heart," Philippaerts says. "He always gave the best of himself. Maybe, in the end, he didn't have the last go but then with his heart he would jump 10cm higher.
    "He always got the best out of himself and he was very careful -- a real winner actually."
    Despite his winning mentality, Philippaerts eventually sold HH Carlos Z to US rider McLain Ward in 2014.
    But far from yearning for days gone by with his old steed, the Belgian is just happy to see him still winning.
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    "If you see what McLain has done with him already, it's also unbelievable," Philippaerts says. "He won the five-star in Wellington and you see it's a good horse.
    "I mean, if he goes to a show he still wins nearly every weekend! I'm very happy that he stands with McLain and does a really good job with him.
    "I've got used to it (seeing HH Carlos Z with Ward), it's been a few years since we sold the horse -- I was very happy with the horse. I'm also happy now that he has a good place and he goes very well with him."