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New ride presents British young rider with ‘unique’ Olympic opportunity

Young British showjumper Harry Charles has acquired some very exciting new horse power which, he says, he’ll be aiming for next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the European Championships.

In September, owner Ann Thompson announced that Irish showjumper Darragh Kenny would no longer be riding her top-class string of horses — including Balou Du Reventon and Romeo 88 — deciding it was “time for an evaluation of my priorities” after Covid-19 took such a huge toll in the United States.

She is now handing over the reins to rising stars Harry Charles, 21, USA’s Lillie Keenan, 24, and 19-year-old Brian Moggre, also from USA.

Among those sent to Hampshire-based Harry’s stable are the 11-year-old stallion Romeo 88, who Darragh rode to the runner-up spot in last year’s Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, and the nine-year-old Gelano, who had most recently been ridden by Canadian showjumper Brian Walker.

“My father [Peter Charles] and I have always been a stable that sells a lot of horses, so to have someone like Ann support us and provide me with horses with no pressure to sell and only focus on the development of each horse and the spirit of the sport, is a unique and big thing for me,” said Harry. “These horses, especially a horse like Romeo 88, will fit at the front of my string, then next year we are aiming for the Olympic Games and the European Championships.”

The multi-winning 14-year-old stallion Balou Du Reventon, who Darragh rode to victory at the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) in Chantilly and the Rolex grand prix at Knokke Hippique in 2019, will now be seen with Brian Moggre in the saddle. Brian enjoyed a successful junior career before turning professional in 2019.

“The biggest thing is for me to represent Ann Thompson’s horses well and [Balou Du Reventon] really is a superstar, so my main goal is to show everybody that Balou is very special to Ann, and it has been a lot of fun getting to know him,” said Brian.

“Riding him for the first time was a bit surreal as he is definitely not a horse I thought I would ever get the opportunity to ride! There is no telling what the extent of this horse’s career is.”

Lillie Keenan has received the up-and-coming seven-year-old Delta De La Rasse, whom Britain’s Donald Whitaker has been producing. Lillie was part of the USA Nations Cup team that won the Aga Khan Trophy in Dublin in 2017.

“My parents always assured me opportunities will find you if you are doing your part and treating people the way you want to be treated,” said Lillie.

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“This was something that just came together and I can’t thank Ann Thompson enough for believing in me, believing in my program and taking this chance to support my career. To have a woman who is successful and strong in her own right support my career, I think it is so meaningful, but is also an advantage because she has been through the struggles I know I will face.”

Ann Thompson said: “I am looking forward to this next chapter in my support of show jumping not only in the USA but also globally. Because of my commitment to the sport of show jumping, I am honored to welcome each of these three talented athletes from around the world to the Everlong, LLC team.

“The care and well-being of my horses is my top priority, and I feel that with this new Everlong, LLC team of talented young athletes, my horses are appropriately placed and will thrive in their new endeavors.”

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