‘A cool course to jump’ Harry Charles just pipped in epic King George V Cup

  • Belgian rider Gilles Thomas said he thought his horse was “quite slow” — but he proved otherwise this afternoon with a superb speedy clear to take the Longines King George V Cup at the Royal International Horse Show.

    In a first win for Belgium since 1931, Gilles and the 14-year-old Aretino 13 showed astonishing speed and control to cross the finish line three seconds ahead of Harry Charles and Borsato.

    Gilles said the Caretino gelding is a fairly new ride.

    “This is only the second time I’ve done a jump-off with him,” he said. “I didn’t know he was quick, I thought he was quite slow so I just went for it — but I think I have got a quick horse here!”

    After the 48 starters had been whittled down to eight by Kelvin Bywater’s testing course, jump-off clears were hard to come by, with the first four contenders clocking up 44 faults between them. Irishman Trevor Breen produced the frst jump-off clear on Gonzalo, but the lead was immediately taken over by Brazilian rider Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Harwich VDL, a ground-covering KWPN 10-year-old who jumped an effortless clear nearly a second and a half faster.

    Next in Harry Charles, on his London International Horse Show grand prix-winning ride Borsato, pulled out all the stops for a perfect clear, with every distance and stride perfectly judged.

    “I came here with the goal of trying to win this grand prix, and he’s 16 so he’s got all the experience,” Harry said. “And he is 16 but he’s getting better with age; his first round was fantastic and his jump-off was great.

    “It was a cool course to jump; we jump in so many sand rings so it was good to have some proper jumps, and it’s a different style of riding but fun. We weren’t quite quick enough but I’m really happy with him.”

    Gilles said Aretino has a bigger stride than Borsato, which worked in his favour, as did his late draw.

    “It was just taking strides out and turning well,” he said. “This is my first five-star grand prix, and to win this historic one here is really special.”

    Gilles added: “My best friend Kevin Jochems’ name is on the trophy too [from 2018]; it was his first five-star grand prix too and I think I’ll call him later and say ‘This grand prix is not so hard to win’!”

    Marlon said it was always “one of the dreams” to put your name on such a historic trophy, adding: “But we’ve had a fantastic weekend here.

    “I know my horse isn’t the quickest or the most experienced; it’s his second five-star grand prix, but the ring suits him. I was lucky enough to jump late, saw there were a lot of faults and had an idea of jumping clear and trying to put pressure on these boys.”

    Trevor, who finished fourth, said: “I’m delighted. It’s my third show with him and I’m just getting to know him so this was fantastic. To do that; he’s such a lovely horse, beautiful to ride with a huge heart and he fights for you.”

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