Harry Charles is narrowly beaten into second in the Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier of Stuttgart
Monday 20 November 2023
Harry Charles hit tremendous form in Stuttgart, Germany, and, after bagging a double win on Friday – including the Stuttgart German Masters – he secured second place in the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier by a very narrow margin atop the 13-year-old gelding Casquo Blue.
He picked up €34,000 in prize money for his efforts, but after coming so close to his third win of the week – just 0.14 seconds in arrears – emotions ran high and he admitted, “His horse was not the fastest and it was bittersweet to lose so narrowly.”
Top Dutch course designer, Louis Konickx, created the 13-fence first-round track that included five fences standing at a full 1.60m with a time-allowed of 69 seconds, and it took some riding. There was a tricky turn to the triple combination at fence four and absolute accuracy required to negotiate the pink-topped vertical at eight to the following oxer at nine and a sharp right bend to a narrow vertical at fence 10. For several of the 37 starters however, the game was already up when the oxer at fence two hit the floor.
“It was difficult, just eight clears and the time allowed was tight, so it motivated the riders to run a little bit against the clock already in the first round,” explained winner, Kevin Staut.
On a day of fabulous sport and wild celebrations, Kevin and Beau de Laubry Z won the fifth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League series.
The home crowd may have been hoping that one of their own would take the top step of the podium, but they roared with delight when the Frenchman set the eight-horse jump-off alight with a sensational round from his 10-year-old gelding that simply couldn’t be beaten.
France’s Francois Xavier Boudant set the standard on Brezyl Du Mezel and remained at the top despite a couple of challenges. Until fellow Frenchman Kevin entered the ring. His round flowed seamlessly, the 2009 individual European champion and 2016 Olympic team gold medallist never losing momentum and racing through the timers with 0.30 seconds in hand.
Sweden’s Amanda Landeblad and For Killy returned a nine-fault result but reigning European champions, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and Dynamix de Belheme, looked set to oust the French leader as they wound their way around the snaking eight-fence challenge. However, the penultimate oxer and the final vertical didn’t come up quite right and time in the air over the last cost valuable fractions of seconds to drop them into fifth place in the final analysis.
The real threat came from last to go Harry and his 13-year-old gelding, who set off like they were on fire in the final draw.
“I didn’t quite think I could catch Kevin, Casquo isn’t the fastest horse but when you have a crowd like this behind you then you give it everything and the horse gave it everything as well. It was so close, but honestly it feels like a win anyway!” said the popular 24-year-old after breaking the beam only 0.14 seconds off Kevin Staut’s winning time to secure runner-up spot.
The result handed Harry 17 points and he now stands in fourth just behind third-placed Ben Maher and seven points behind the leader, Germany’s Rene Dittmer with Ireland’s Richard Howley in second after the fifth leg in the Western European League.
The spectators loved every moment of it, and all the riders were talking about the tremendous atmosphere in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer Halle this weekend.
Harry loved the buzzing atmosphere – “This is the best crowd I’ve ever jumped in front of!” – and he enjoyed a really successful show over the last few days.
“I came here last year for the first time and didn’t have the luckiest week and made a promise to myself I’d come back next year. This is a show I always wanted to perform well at, and on Friday to become the German Master was a pretty cool title! I would have loved to have won the World Cup today but maybe I’ll come back next year and try again!”
Stuttgart, Germany – 19 November, 2023
Longines FEI World Cup 2023/2024 1.60m Grand Prix of Stuttgart
1st Kevin Staut (FRA) & Beau De Laubry – 0/0 - 41.78 seconds
2nd Harry Charles (GBR) & Casquo Blue – 0/0 - 41.92 seconds
3rd Francois Xavier Boudant (FRA) & Brazyl Du Mezel – 0/0 - 42.08 seconds
Image: ©FEI/Leanjo de Koster