“SHE was due a big win,” said Harry Charles, of the 11-year-old mare with whom he defeated all comers to take the HOYS grand prix.
Harry and Stardust, a relatively new ride owned by Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and Chase Steer, jumped one of only two double clears in the leading showjumper of the year finale, coming home six seconds ahead of Ben Walker on Creevy Taylor.
Harry has not had the ride on the Chacco-Blue x Con Air 7 mare for long, but long enough to see her class. She took on Kelvin Bywater’s technical track, over which only four of 25 starters had jumped clear, and made it look easy.
“I’ve done a handful of grands prix on her, and come second in one, but now she’s won, which she deserved,” said Harry. “She was due a win.”
Harry noted that clear rounds had been hard to come by all week, and tonight was no exception. There was heartbreak for riders including John Whitaker and Holly Smith when they both tipped the final rail; Holly Smith and her Tokyo Olympic ride Denver missing out on a place in the jump-off by a hundredth of a second.
“When I walked the course, I didn’t think there would be many clears but I knew she was more than capable,” Harry said. ‘I found it tricky — but she made it feel good.”
In the jump-off, Harry was last to go, by which time only Ben and Creevy Taylor had jumped clear.
“Ben was the one to beat and he hadn’t gone that fast, so I stuck to my plan, turned and trusted her,” Harry said. “She’s naturally very fast so I didn’t really push her, and I could have gone a bit slower. I came second in this grand prix two years ago, and I came here wanting to win it.
“She’s the kindest horse, the nicest one in the stable; she’s like a dog.”
Harry first rode at HOYS 11 years ago, and having taken the 128cm and the leading pony titles, the HOYS grand prix win gives him a sought-after hat-trick.
Father Peter added that were he to jump again, Stardust is the one he would ride, and that he sees a big future for her.
“She came second in the Knokke grand prix, and third and fourth at Windsor, so she’s heading in the right direction,” he said.
Ben, who was jumping in the HOYS international classes for the first time, said Pennie Cornish and Emma Ziff’s Pacino x Cruising eight-year-old had made some “green mistakes” earlier in the show.
“He’s only eight so it’s a big ask, but he’s an intelligent horse, so if he makes mistakes, he learns fast,” he said. “He’s gone in there, grown up and pulled it out of the bag.
“He’s like a big armchair to ride; an absolute dream.”
Ben went for a steady jump-off clear, as he said neither he nor the horse has the experience of much of the rest of the field, and he wanted the horse to have a good experience, expecting to finish lower down the order.
“So this feels amazing,” he said.
Angelie von Essen tipped one pole in the jump-off to finish third, on 13-year-old KWPN Heartbreaker stallion Daniel.
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