Harry Charles made another significant entry in his unforgettable 2021 by being crowned Leading Showjumper of the Year at Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham.
In winning the headline showjumping class, he emulated his father – London 2012 Great Britain team gold medallist Peter Charles – who took top honours when the event was held at Wembley.
Peter looked on as 22-year-old Harry, who rode for Britain at the Tokyo Olympics two months ago, claimed an emphatic victory aboard Stardust and secured a top prize.
Just six combinations from 24 starters made it through to the second round against the clock, and only two – Harry and Leamington Spa rider Ben Walker on Creevy Taylor – delivered double clear rounds.
Harry’s time on the 11-year-old mare was more than six seconds ahead of Ben, while Sweden’s Angelie von Essen was third with the grey stallion Daniel, just ahead of defending champion David Simpson.
It underlined his status as one of world’s showjumping brightest talents, and Hampshire-based Harry said: “I really wanted to win this one.
“I was second two years ago, and she is a horse I think the world of, I love coming here.
“It is a class I have always wanted to win, I grew up watching it, and to pick it up so early in my career is amazing.
“It has been my best year. I am so lucky to have the horses I have, and the team I have behind me. Everyone works so hard. It has come together really nicely this year.”
Earlier on Sunday, the Grandstand Media Five Fence Challenge produced a tie at the top between world showjumping stars John Whitaker and Shane Breen.
The four-round competition sees jumps increase in height after each round, with any combination collecting a fault being eliminated.
Yorkshireman John, who first competed at the Horse of the Year Show 50 years ago, and Sussex-based Irishman Shane delivered immaculate showjumping throughout aboard their respective rides Sharid and Vistograd, each collecting a share of the prize money after clearing 1.75m in the final round.
There was also a tie for third place, with John’s nephew Jack on Haya Loma N and Joe Stockdale, aboard Equine America Kandleford, completing the podium.
Reflecting on his long association with the Horse of the Year Show, John said: “Last night’s atmosphere was unbelievable. The first (jump-off) class was great, but the puissance was fantastic. It has all been absolutely top-drawer.”
* Audio with Leading Showjumper of the Year winner Harry Charles