Charles and Stardust make magic at Christmas leg in London

London has for years hosted one of the most hotly contested legs of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup series, but thanks to a new venue, the London International Horse Show riders enjoyed a larger arena with more room.

It was a fabulous day for team Great Britain, who sent five riders through to the jump off. Christmas came early for young Harry Charles and his aptly-named mare Stardust, who took the gold medal on home soil.

In second place was Harrie Smolders and Monaco, with fellow Brit John Whitaker in third place aboard Unick du Francport. 

Despite the bigger space, there was no less than 17 efforts packed into the space, complete with some uniquely themed London fences (including a London underground and Tower Bridge fence), a festive Santa Claus and Snowman fence, and plenty of tricky distances and tight combinations requiring a cool head and a good collected canter. 

Spectators were treated to an all-star lineup of 35 riders including Steve Guerdat, Ben Maher, Martin Fuchs, Max Kuhner, Scott Brash, Marcus Ehning, John Whitaker, and more. 

Lillie Keenan, as the sole representative for the USA, was the first to jump. A quick stroke and kiss before the round started to settle a slightly spooky Skyhorse, and they were off. The first combination of the day had two down and one time fault. 
Fence three presented a challenge as riders came off a “blind” corner with a very short and not-quite-straight approach to a wide oxer, followed by a short four-stride distance to the fourth fence. Later in the track were a few tricky related distances and combinations, but third rider Anthony Condon and SFS Vincomte made short work of it with a lovely, quiet clear. 

For team GB, 20-year old Jack Whitaker and Haya Loma N - who herself is only 9 - put together a polished round for a fabulous clear to the delight of the home crowd.

He seemed to kick off a flurry of clears, with Michael G Duffy, Noora Forsten, Geir Gulliksen, his uncle John Whitaker, Harrie Smolders, Ben Maher, Harry Charles, Martin Fuchs, and Matthew Sampson all going through to the jump off. 

Condon aimed for a steady clear but took down the second element of the double and had to settle for a slow four-fault round. Jack Whitaker had a pole at the same double, as did Fuchs, and Foorsten joined the four-fault club too.

Michael G Duffy cantered to a clear in 39.38 seconds, but his lead was short lived as Gulliksen came home in 38.4 seconds, then John Whitaker in 37.5 seconds. Harrie Smolders nearly had an unplanned run-out at fence number one but recovered incredibly well to snatch the lead at 36.7 seconds. Maher was clear but not fast enough to challenge the leaders of the pack. 

Harry Charles took it up yet another notch to take the lead in 35.9 seconds with a brave gallop to the last and a display of horsemanship far beyond his 22 years. Sampson went all in, knowing he was the only thing standing between Charles and the gold. He took the saying “rode it like you stole it” to heart, galloping to every fence, but had a refusal and had to settle for 11th. 
At the end of the sixth leg of the series, Denis Lynch still heads up the Western European leaderboard – but Harry Charles is snapping at his heels in second place and is looking a likely contender for the finals in Leipzig next year. 

Press Release

Image@Harry Charles (GBR) and Stardust, winners of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League - London (GBR), Copyright ©FEI/Jon Stroud

Watch the winning round of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League in London where Harry Charles and Stardust showed a brilliant performance.