“If someone had told me last year that in 2018 I’d be winning a four-star grand prix, become double European [young rider] champion, jump at Aachen and then in a jump-off at the Globals, I wouldn’t have believed it!”
So said 19-year-old Harry Charles after a momentous three days competing in the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT). Not only did the talented young showjumper secure several good placings at this five-star show, he made it through to the jump-off for the prestigious grand prix, where he was competing against the likes of Ludger Beerbaum, Peder Fredricson, Michael Whitaker and victor Scott Brash. With just one fence down against the clock, Harry and ABC Quantum Cruise finished a very creditable sixth. Here, he relives this unforgettable experience with H&H.
“I only had about a week and a half’s notice that I was going to London, so that didn’t give us much preparation time,” said Harry. “But luckily my horses were up and running as we’d come off the back of shows at Aachen and Hickstead.
“I didn’t come to the show with high expectations — I’ve never even been to a GCT show, although I do watch the streaming from the shows every Saturday night, studying these big, careful courses,” said Harry. “I thought I might do OK as my horses had been jumping well, but certainly not as good as I ended up.
“The format of the grand prix really suited Quantum Cruise because the more he jumps, the better he gets,” said Harry. “He’s been close at the last two five-star grands prix he’s jumped at, both at Aachen and Hickstead and there I said to my groom, Dan, ‘I think he’s going to jump clear next week [in London]’. I was very happy to be proved right!
“The way he jumped in the grand prix was like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” said Harry. “To qualify for the grand prix was my goal so to jump clear in it was unbelievable. I pretended it was like any other class but in the back of my mind I was going in to a jump-off against Ludger Beerbaum and Scott Brash!
“We all watched Scott’s round as he was first to go in the jump-off and everyone’s jaw just dropped,” said Harry. “I just made a mistake with an extra stride where he faulted [at the penultimate fence], but he exceeded all expectations.
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“He’ll do one more show then he’s going out in the field,” said Harry of the nine-year-old, whom he only started riding at the end of last year, taking over from father Peter. “We know what we’ve got for next year and that’s a proper grand prix horse and possibly one for the ‘super league’ Nations Cups.
“It’s been the year of my life,” summed up Harry.
Don’t miss the full report from the Longines Global Champions Tour of London, including exclusive comment from John Whitaker, in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, out Thursday 9 August.