Harry Charles proved unbeatable in his first four-star grand prix, beating his Olympic gold medallist father into third place.
The 18-year-old posted a clear round in the jump-off of the 1.55m grand prix at the Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain, on Monday (12 March), finishing just under a second faster than his father Peter.
Harry, a double silver medallist at last summer’s Junior European Championships, had planned to jump his first four-star grand prix at the Liverpool International Horse Show last December but the show was cancelled just before the class was due to start owing to the major fire in a nearby car park.
This weekend, with two riders left before him in the class in Spain, heavy rain meant the class was abandoned, and the remaining 11 riders told they would have to wait until Monday.
“For any rider making their first appearance at this level they would have undoubtedly felt pressure, but for Harry this second set-back must have made him wonder whether his chance would ever come,” said a British Showjumping statement. “This pressure would certainly have also been compounded due to the fact that his father Peter, who won team gold at London 2012, had already gone clear and was guaranteed a place in the jump-off.
“With the arena drying out somewhat, the 11 remaining riders were invited to jump and Harry really couldn’t have delivered a better round. Riding Controe, an 11 year-old bay mare with whom he has consistently been jumping clears, he delivered a foot-perfect round like an old hand to assure himself a place alongside his father and five other Brits in the 11-strong jump-off.”
Peter on ABC Quantum Cruise had already jumped clear in a time of 33.90 seconds, but Harry delivered a rhythmical clear in 33.02 seconds to take the victory, to cheers from the sidelines.
“I’m so proud of Harry,” Peter said. “He rode well beyond his years, he was sensible in the jump-off and he worked out where he could save time. He was cool and calculated; he nailed it with precision.
“He beat me today and I honestly couldn’t be happier about that. My focus is on him, and my other children, all achieving their ambitions and I just want them all to be as successful as I know they can be. Harry has an enormous talent and in my opinion is a future Olympic rider and medallist for Great Britain. I’m just doing everything I can now to help him achieve that and we’re supporting him all the way.
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“He has really proved himself stepping up in this way and it’s a really great day for the entire family.”
Peter finished third with Robert Olivier on Eros second, Spencer Roe and Wonder Why fourth and Graham Gillespie and Andretti fifth, making it four Brits in the top six.
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