‘No better place to win my first Nations Cup’: Harry Charles reflects on momentous home win, 13 years after watching his father

  • One of the heroes of Friday’s victorious Hickstead Nations Cup team was 24-year-old British rising star Harry Charles.

    A year after jumping a double clear for his country with Stall Zet’s impressive Casquo Blue in the Longines FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain, the Hampshire rider achieved the feat once again, this time in a crucial result for the sport. For it had been 13 years since British showjumping fans last had reason to celebrate on home soil when, back in 2010, Harry’s father Peter Charles and the great Murka’s Pom D’Ami, alongside William Funnell (Billy Congo), Tina Fletcher (Hello Sailor) and Michael Whitaker (GIG Amai II) had last lifted the Edward, Prince of Wales Trophy.

    But this year, Di Lampard’s squad of Harry, John Whitaker (Equine America Unick Du Francport) – who had been on the sidelines watching the 2010 Nations Cup – Tim Gredley (Medoc De Toxandria) and Ben Maher (Exit Remo) brought home the silverware once again, to some epic celebrations.

    Somewhat surprisingly for Harry, who is a veteran of an Olympic games, a world championship medallist and a mainstay of five-star British teams, this was his first Nations Cup success.

    “This is amazing – it’s my first Nations Cup win but it’s also amaing for all the guys and Di Lampard,” said Hampshire-based Harry, who also picked up a share of the bonus as one of three riders who jumped double clears in Friday’s two-round competition. “This has been the goal to win the Nations Cup and bring it back. So when a plan comes together like it did today, it’s a real sense of achievement.

    “I’m proud of everyone, it’s a really special day.”

    Hickstead Nations Cup: ‘I was just a nipper!’

    Harry was only 11, “just a nipper!” when he watched his father help Great Britain win the Hickstead Nations Cup in 2010, but he recalls the occasion vividly.

    “I remember being here with Jack Whitaker [son of GB team rider Michael] and Will Fletcher [son of Tina Fletcher] in 2010 and I remember that day very clearly – I can’t believe that was the last time we won it! So it’s probably overdue and I’m very happy to bring it back,” said Harry. Notably, both of his friends from that day were also in action in the five-star classes at this year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show, with Jack Whitaker also securing a landmark first senior win at Hickstead.

    If someone had told Peter Charles in 201o that it would be 13 years before Great Britain would next win on home soil, with his son on the team, he would have been “very surprised that it was so long coming”, but he had no doubt even back then that his then 11-year-old son would one day be forging his own incredibly successful showjumping career path.

    “All through juniors and young riders, he’s been a real horseman, and his sisters Scarlett and Sienna too, so this is a credit to him. I’m very proud,” said Peter.

    As a nod to his prowess as a team rider, Harry, who was the youngest of the quartet jumping in the Hickstead Nations Cup this year, has been shifted into the anchorman role as fourth team rider to jump.

    “It’s a real privilege to be put in that position in your home Nations Cup,” said Harry. “So thanks to Di and Stanny van Paeschen for the trust.”

    The competition had been sealed by third rider John Whitaker’s second-round clear, so Harry’s second round “was nice,” said a smiling Harry.

    “The boys did all the hard work – I could just smile and wave a bit!” he said. “But I love jumping here at Hickstad, it’s the perfect place to win my first Nations Cup.”

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