Tag Archives: Harry Charles

Double Delight for Harry Charles at London International Horse Show

It was an action-packed final day of The London International Horse Show. The prestigious London Grand Prix provided a fitting conclusion to the five-day event, with Harry Charles taking the spoils. His victory sealed his status as the Leading Rider of the Show. The world’s best riders were also in action in The Mistletoe Speed Stakes, which was won by Edouard Schmitz.

Great Britain’s top young riders battled it out in The Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship, with reigning champion Jodie Hall McAteer reclaiming her title. The junior riders also came to the fore in The GS Equestrian Pony Club Mini-Major, won by Cliodhna McEvoy paired with Laura Renwick.

The BSPS Ridden Mountain & Moorland Championship sponsored by LeMieux was won by Welsh Section C, Lynuck the Showman, ridden by Rebecca Penny and owned and bred by Lynn Scott. It was a well-deserved victory for one of the most consistent combinations on the circuit, who have been in the top 10 at the London International Horse Show for the past four years.

HARRY CHARLES DOES THE DOUBLE

The London Grand Prix provided a spectacular finale to the 2021 Show. A challenging course designed by Guillherme Jorge left no room for error, demanding precision and power to achieve the all-important clear round required to progress to the jump-off.

Nine combinations made it through to contest the second round against the clock. In-form Harry Charles made a very good start aboard the 15-year-old Borsato to put the pressure on, with a clear in the time of 33.53, going one step closer to emulating his father’s 1993 victory in this class. France’s Edward Levy followed and put in a valiant effort, although not quite matching Charles’ pace.

FEI Jumping World Cup runner-up Harrie Smolders was the next to jump a clear, although again not able to match the level set by Charles. Even Olympic champion Ben Maher had to settle for second place, despite pulling out all the stops in a round which will have had Charles worried. In victory, Charles becomes the first rider to do the London leg of the FEI Jumping World Cup and the London Grand Prix double since Robert Smith in 2005.

An elated Charles said: “Weekends don’t get better than this. I’ll probably never have another weekend like it in my life! Thank you everyone for putting on such an amazing show; it’s my first time here and I can’t wait to come back. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d done enough. The guys behind me are all so quick. I just did all could and I’m absolutely ecstatic.”

Charles went on to praise the jubilant home supporters: “The crowd make this show what it is, so I would like to thank everyone for supporting all of us this week.”

The Voltaire Design Under 25 Championship featured the top 10 riders from the morning’s qualifier, which was won by defending champion, Jodie Hall McAteer, riding Mademoiselle A.

The first of five to go through to the second round was Robert Murphy, carrying four faults from the first round; however, with only two first round clears, all was still to play for. Murphy put in a solid performance to stay on four faults, posting a time to beat of 28.74 seconds, good enough for eventual third. Joe Stockdale produced the first double clear to move into pole position, but with a relatively conservative time, the door was left open to Hall McAteer as the final rider to go. With a gallop down to the last, Hall McAteer made up time on her rival to take her second win of the day and reclaim the title she also won at the 2019 Show.

The 21-year-old said: “I’ve been very fortunate to have had the year I’ve had; I’ve got an amazing team of horses and people around me so it’s really special to come here and end the year in this way. There’s nothing better than coming here with the amazing crowd and atmosphere; this is what we work every day for, so I’m very happy to be here and in this position.”

The GS Equestrian Pony Club Mini-Major, a pairs relay whereby the world’s best international Show Jumpers team up with young Pony Club riders, had the crowd on the edge of their seats. The format saw the international riders jump an untimed first phase before handing over to their junior counterparts for a second section against the clock.

First to go, France’s Daniel Delsart, paired with Martha Cussins, set a good standard, jumping double clear with a second phase time of 22.33 seconds. Laura Renwick, a previous winner of this class, this year paired with Cliodhna McEvoy, completed her role successfully, jumping clear in the first phase. McEvoy took over the baton, setting off like a rocket and making impossibly tight turns to make up almost two seconds and set a new target of 20.58 seconds.

Cate Kerr, from the Newmarket and Thurlow Pony Club, already a winner at The London International Horse Show this week, was paired with William Funnell, as the last to go, but despite a great round by both partners, Kerr’s time of 22.40 seconds was only good enough for third place.

After the class, Renwick said: I was gob smacked with their performance. I did my round, which was very pressurized as I couldn’t have a pole down, and obviously I didn’t want to let Cliodhna down. Then I stopped and did a nice circle before she started, and then when she started, I think my jaw dropped; it was incredible. The atmosphere, the angles, the speed, the accuracy – I was really surprised and impressed.”

The Mistletoe Speed Stakes was an adrenaline-filled test of speed, with three seconds added for every fence knocked down. Renwick was looking to make it a double for the afternoon and came out first to go meaning business; however, a fence down added three seconds to her otherwise fast round to put her out of contention.

Shane Breen put in a brilliant performance to set the early pace aboard Cuick Star Kervec and he held the lead for the majority of the class. With just four to go, home favourite John Whitaker – in his 49th year competing at The London International Horse Show – showed why he was still at the top of the sport, with a majestic performance aboard Green Grass, the horse he rode to victory earlier in the week, to take over at the top of the leaderboard much to the crowd’s delight. However, it was Switzerland’s Edouard Schmitz, as the penultimate rider to go riding Balenciana K, who clinched the victory from Whitaker, who at the age of 66 is 44 years Schmitz’s senior.

“I have really enjoyed the Show,” said Schmitz, “especially now having a result like this. The crowd has been amazing, the classes have been super; it’s been top sport; you can only be happy. I saw John’s round and I thought it would be very hard to beat, but I think I was very fast from fence two to three and my horse in generally a bit faster than John’s; however, I do feel a bit guilty about beating him in London!”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Great Britain Reigns Supreme on Day Four of London International Horse Show

The penultimate day of The London International Horse Show showcased the next generation of Show Jumping talent. An incredible ride in the afternoon performance saw British young rider, Harry Charles, win The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup exactly 20 years after his father won the same class, with a spectacular display of horsemanship aboard the relatively inexperienced mare Stardust.

The country’s best ponies were in action in The Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes (128cm) and The Voltaire Design Mini Stakes (148cm), with the evening performance brought to a close with The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes, won by Scott Brash.

Elsewhere, The Kennel Club Intermediate Agility Stakes Finals was won by Leslie Olden with Nedlo’s Girl in a Whirl. Freddie Keighley rode Brewards Kerwen to victory in the evening edition of The Shetland Pony Grand National and received his award from Rory Bremner, while performances by Santi Serra and The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment added to the day’s action from ExCeL London.

BRILLIANT BRASH BRINGS IT HOME

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes was run under a unique format whereby the 25 competitors were drawn into six groups. The winner of each group, based on faults and time, went through to a final jump-off, accompanied by the two fastest losers across all groups.

As the only clears in Group 1 and 2, Ireland’s Denis Lynch and in-form Harry Charles won the first automatic qualification places to the jump-off. The Irishman Shane Breen was the next to join them, winning Group 3 outright, again as the only clear. Group 4 was a close affair, with Angelie von Essen, Gregory Wathelet, and Kevin Staut all jumping clear within 0.4 seconds of each other. However, Sweden’s von Essen won the battle for automatic qualification, with Wathelet going through as one of the fastest losers.

Group 5 saw compatriots Scott Brash and Guy Williams pitted together, both pulling out excellent performances to jump fast clear rounds; however, it was Brash who came out on top to go straight through to the jump-off. Williams’ time was quick enough to secure a place as a fastest loser. Great Britain’s Matthew Sampson took the final automatic place, winning Group 6.

As first to go in the jump-off, Breen set the standard with a clear in an impressive time of 40.13 seconds. Wathelet and von Essen followed, both incurring faults trying to catch Breen’s target Sampson came out meaning business, absolutely flying round the course to take over pole position.

Sampson’s lead did not last long, as Harry Charles, fresh from victory in The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup, followed him into the arena and put on a foot perfect performance to go into first place. The lead changed once again as last to go, Scott Brash, pulled off an exceptionally tight turn to the vertical at number four and a frantic charge to the last, and shaved 0.14 seconds of Charles’ time to take his inaugural victory at this year’s London International Horse Show.

Speaking of his victory aboard Lady Harris & Lady Kirkham’s Hello Mr President, Brash said: “Hello Mr President is a very fast horse, which makes my life a bit easier. Harry has won enough today; he needs to give the old ones a chance again! The crowd is what makes this show, and they were absolutely fantastic again tonight. The organisers have done a brilliant job; we jump all around the world, all year round, so to finish off in London with your home crowd, to get a win, is extra special.”

The 128cm ponies had the crowd behind them in The Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes, as one after the other they put their foot to the boards in a scintillating display of speed and agility. Five combinations went through to the jump-off, but it was Cate Kerr riding Dunbarover who came out on top, 0.33 faster than Hollie Gerken with Black Jack III in second.

The ecstatic 12-year-old exclaimed: “It’s amazing; to win here is like a dream. I knew that everyone wanted to win, but I just wanted to win a bit more! My pony is just amazing; the jump-off course suited him quite well, so I just went for it. This is the best Christmas present I could ever have.”

Later in the day, their 148cm counterparts took centre stage in The Voltaire Design Mini Stakes. Nine of the 13 starters made it through to the jump-off, setting up for an entertaining show down. Of the three double clears, Noora von Bulow riding Elando van de Roshoeve came out on top with an exceptional round in the time of 24.89 seconds, ahead of Phoebe Farman in second and Lauren Caroline back in third. The win capped off an exceptional year for 13-year-old von Bulow, who also won the Children’s Grand Prix at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Finals show in Kronenberg, The Netherlands earlier this year.

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Harry Charles Brings a Sprinkling of Stardust to London International Horse Show

The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup brought top-class sport to ExCeL London as the world’s best equestrian athletes battled it out for the prestigious title. The testing 1.60m course set by Brazilian course designer Guilherme Gorge saw 11 combinations master the first round without fault. The first to achieve this feat, Ireland’s Anthony Condon riding SFS Vincomte, got the jump-off underway, incurring four faults coming out of the double at fence eight. Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker followed Condon into the arena, suffering the same fate.

Ireland’s Michael Duffy was the first to produce a clear over the shortened course, which featured nine jumping efforts, setting a time to beat of 39.38 seconds. Norway’s Geir Gulliksen put in a brilliant effort to take the lead; however, it was short lived, as he was followed into the arena by the legendary John Whitaker, who went into pole position at the halfway point.

Former World No. 1, Harrie Smolders, survived a tricky moment at the first, before upping the ante to provide a new target to beat of 36.77. Great Britain’s Olympic champion, Ben Maher, put in a valiant effort but could not match the pace of Smolders, finishing in eventual fifth.

With three to go, Great Britain’s Harry Charles, full of confidence following a win earlier in the week, took over the lead to the delight of the sell-out crowd, shaving 0.86 seconds off Smolders’ time. The 22-year-old had a nail-biting wait for the final two, which included the in-form Martin Fuchs, but his round aboard the 11-year-old mare, Stardust, proved unbeatable, giving Charles the victory exactly 20 years after his father won the same competition.

An emotional Charles said: “It’s the best feeling. I’ve been coming here for years; this is one that I, and everyone, wants to win. I can’t really tell you how it feels. It’s my career highlight. We are thrilled with the horse; the whole team has made an incredible effect to get us to this point; it is the best feeling ever. The atmosphere was incredible; to have all the people here behind me was incredible. I don’t normally throw my hand up like that but it all just got to me, the crowd and everything. It’s mad – the new place, the big crowd. I think the world of my horse; she’s amazing and I think she could be everything. She is so inexperienced at this level, but she has such a quick turn of foot – she has everything I want from in a horse. Where she came from at the start of the year to now is a dream come true!”

Runner-up, Harrie Smolders, added: “It’s always a pleasure to come back to London; it’s an amazing atmosphere here. We saw spectacular sport today and having such a brilliant audience makes our achievements greater. I don’t know what happened at the first. I think I had the right distance, but the fence was in the wrong place! I didn’t have the smoothest start, but I am still very pleased and I can’t complain about the outcome. Congratulations to Harry – I think it’s just the start of Harry Charles with the World Cup here; we are going to see a lot more of him in the future. Well done to John too; there’s a little bit of difference in age, but he’s still at the top level and at the top of his game.”

Third-placed Whitaker, who first competed at The London International Horse Show in 1972, said: “Unick du Francport jumped great; the course went to plan, how I decided to ride it. I was a little bit careful at the green double which caused a few problems, but I think I just need more experience to beat these guys! This show is a level above all others; this is the class to win, especially for us British riders, and for one tiny second, I thought I might do it! The new facilities here are very, very good: impossible to fault.”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Dujardin Delivers Sensational Double in London

It was an action packed second day of The London International Horse Show at ExCeL London. In addition to spectacular international competition in three FEI disciplines, Driving, Dressage, and Jumping, the Show hosted a dedicated Medal Parade to celebrate the achievements of the equestrian Team GB athletes at this summer’s Olympic Games and European Championships.

Additional achievements were acknowledged across the course of the day, with the British Equestrian Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Carl Hester and British Dressage International Champions Trophy awarded to Charlotte Dujardin and her Tokyo 2020 Olympic mount Gio, as the highest placed British combination at this year’s championships.

The Services Jumping Championship was won by Sgt Charlotte Lee from the Police, riding Bermudez BDA, the only competitor to jump clear in the second round, with Dawn Weaver’s Ag Ch Galaxy’s Dream Summer winning the Kennel Club Small Agility Stakes Final.

DUJARDIN MAKES IT A DOUBLE

The FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse and Hound took centre stage for the evening performance. Great Britain’s Lara Butler set the standard in the first half of the field, producing a solid score of 76.305%. Butler, riding Kristjan, performed a well-executed test, including impeccable flying changes and piaffes, to music which had the crowd clapping along as she completed.

Germany’s Frederic Wandres, runner-up in last night’s FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix, riding Duke of Britain FRH was the first to mount a challenge to Butler’s lead. Wandres demonstrated the qualities which have contributed to him being the current leader of the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European League to post an outstanding score of 80.260%.

British Tokyo 2020 team bronze medalist Lottie Fry capped a fantastic year, posting an outstanding score of 81.945 to take over the lead. Riding the 13-year-old gelding, Dark Legend, Fry started strongly with a piaffe passage and despite scoring slightly lower in the middle section, finished well to put the pressure on the final two riders.

Last to go, Charlotte Dujardin, is not one to shy away from pressure, and once again proved why she is Great Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian. Aboard Gio, her Tokyo mount, Dujardin rode her Olympic Freestyle test for just the third time, demonstrating quality in abundance, with each movement perfectly in time to the music. She was rewarded by a phenomenal score of 89.040 to take her fifth London International Horse Show FEI World Cup Freestyle victory, with teammate Fry in second and Wandres in third.

Watching from the crowd, mentor and British teammate, Carl Hester, said: “It’s an amazing score and he’s an amazing horse who gives his all; they thoroughly deserve it. The programme is extremely difficult as you could see. It’s a little bit disturbing when you watch somebody so good and a horse that’s so good that you don’t realise how difficult the movements that she’s doing are, because she spins together these incredible movements and the horse just responds so beautifully, so I’m not surprised at the score.”

Dujardin added: “I’ve just finished off the most incredible year in the best way possible. He truly is a very special horse; his very first Olympics, his very first Europeans, and now he’s just finished the year off winning the World Cup here at The London International Horse Show – what a legend. There’s nothing like riding in front of your home crowd, having them cheering you on. I’ve really missed everyone and I would like to thank everyone for coming and supporting.”

EXELL EXCELS AT THE EXCEL

The first leg of the FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International was won by Boyd Exell, a regular winner here in London. The Australian’s masterful display of horsemanship was over seven seconds fast than the runner-up, Koos de Ronde from The Netherlands, in the drive-off, with Dries Degrieck back in third.

The five-time World Four-in-Hand champion and nine-time FEI World Cup Driving Champion was already looking forward to the final leg: “Statistically, Koos [De Ronde] and Ijsbrand [Chardon] are the biggest threats. Ijsbrand was a little bit off the pace today; however, previously he’s been off the pace the first day and much better the second, and often can win the final, so he’s definitely one to watch out for. He does have a little bit more to do than usual, but tomorrow is another day, so let’s wait and see.”

Exell continued, “This new venue is amazing; it’s brilliant for the horses. There’s loads of space, brand new stables, everything for us as competitors is fantastic. Obviously, the Olympia building in the evenings was a lovely setting, but as a sport, we have to evolve and progress, and this facility has the opportunity to do that.”

GREAT BRITAIN DOMINATES ON DAY TWO

The opening CSI5* contest of the day was a two-phase competition whereby all those clear over the first seven fences went on to the second phase against the clock. The first to mount a challenge, Great Britain’s John Whitaker, a legend of the sport, laid down the gauntlet as fifth to go, riding Green Grass. The 66-year-old demonstrated why he is still at the top of the sport, with an extremely tight and fast second phase, jumping clear in 27.16 seconds. Those who followed failed to match Whitaker. Compatriot Sameh El Dahan aboard WKD Toronto came close, posting a time of 28.41 seconds to go into second, and Frenchman Mathieu Billot, as last to go, looked to put Whitaker’s lead under threat, but could only manage enough for third.

The Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes was awarded to Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Harry Charles, riding Borsato. 10 combinations went forward to the jump-off, with Great Britain’s talented young rider Jack Whitaker paving the way. Whitaker meant business from the start, jumping an impressive clear in a time of 35.98 seconds to set the standard. Germany’s Marcus Ehning survived a rub at the penultimate fence to take over pole position at the midway point, shaving 0.83 seconds off Whitaker’s time; however, it was Harry Charles who had the crowd on its feet as he made all the moves to take the lead with just three to go. Charles’ target of 34.07 seconds proved impossible to beat, as those who followed, including dual winner Martin Fuchs, incurred penalties in their attempts to match the pace required.

A delighted Charles said: “I was actually quite shocked when I finished, as I didn’t realise I was that much quicker than him [Marcus Ehning]. It’s not every day you can be that much quicker than Marcus. I thought the jump-off went quite well; in places I thought I was a little bit unsteady, but it all worked out in the end and I’m absolutely delighted.”

EQUESTRIAN TEAM GBR MEDAL PARADE

Ben Maher MBE and his Olympic gold medal-winning partner, Explosion W, led the celebratory medal parade featuring many of Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic equestrian heroes. The parade provided fans with an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional performances from the summer, which also included a successful European Championships and Driving World Championship for Ponies. The medalists were joined in the arena by their owners and grooms, all pivotal to the successes achieved over the course of the year.

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Equestrianism’s Finest Head to CHI Geneva for Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final and Rolex Grand Prix

Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday 7 December 2021 – The Concours Hippique International de Genève (CHI Geneva) returns to the Palexpo arena from 9-12 December for the 60th edition of the prestigious show. The Rolex Grand Prix and the Rolex International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) Top 10 Final are notable highlights during four days of elite competition.

The partnership between Rolex and the Geneva International Horse Show was established in 1996, with 2021 marking the 25-year anniversary, and remains a key element of the brand’s long-standing commitment to equestrianism that dates back more than 60 years. Inaugurated in 1926, the event is among the most revered on the equestrian calendar, demonstrating an unwavering dedication to continuous improvement and quality that fits perfectly with Rolex’s own pursuit of perpetual excellence.

THE ROLEX GRAND PRIX

The competition will culminate on Sunday with the Rolex Grand Prix, one of the four Majors that form the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. As ever, it will be a showcase of the precision, bravery, and athleticism required by horse and rider, working in harmony to take on the challenge set by world-renowned course designers Gérard Lachat of Switzerland and Louis Konickx of the Netherlands.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, comprising The Dutch Masters, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, the CHIO Aachen, and the CHI Geneva, was initiated in 2013 and rewards a rider who wins three consecutive Grands Prix at these events. The most coveted prize in show jumping, it has been achieved by only one athlete, Scott Brash of Great Britain, whose epic feat began at Geneva in 2014 and was completed with victories at Aachen and Spruce Meadows in 2015.

Germany’s Daniel Deusser heads to Geneva as the current live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam following his exceptional performance at Aachen in September, taking victory aboard Killer Queen VDM.

THE ROLEX FAMILY OF TESTIMONEES

A strong roster of Rolex Testimonees will challenge Deusser for the Rolex Grand Prix title. Leading the way will be home favourites Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat.

Fuchs will be hoping to retain his crown following a successful year that has included team gold and individual silver medals at the European championships. The Swiss World No. 4 said: “CHI Geneva is particularly special for me as it’s my home Major and a show that I always want to do well at. Winning the Rolex Grand Prix in 2019 was an unbelievable feeling and I will be doing my very best to repeat my performance.”

Guerdat is a three-time winner (2006, 2013, and 2015) of the CHI Geneva Rolex Grand Prix, and was also victorious in the 2010 and 2018 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Finals. He heads to Palexpo with the prospect of securing a Rolex Grand Slam bonus after winning the CP ‘International’ at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ earlier this year.

Brash, currently ranked No. 6 in the world, also understands the accuracy, courage, and determination required to win a Major, as does Kent Farrington, winner of this event in 2017 with his brilliant mare, Gazelle. France’s Kevin Staut and Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa join the roll of former winners looking to reclaim the title, while Ireland’s Bertram Allen and Great Britain’s Harry Charles will be seeking to add their names to this illustrious list.

THE ROLEX IJRC TOP 10 FINAL

In the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, the world’s top 10 ranked riders compete against each other for the right to be crowned champion. The unique event, which in 2021 celebrates its 20th anniversary, has been supported by Rolex since its inauguration, and acknowledges the achievements of the best show jumpers over the course of the season.

Farrington will contest the 2021 edition as reigning champion, having ridden Austria 2 to victory in 2019. His second success – the American also triumphed in 2015 – marked the seventh consecutive win for a Rolex Testimonee in the event. He will be up against a strong contingent of in-form riders, including Deusser, Fuchs, Brash, Guerdat, and Staut.

IJRC Director Eleonora Ottaviani commented: “We are extremely proud to support this unique concept, bringing together the best riders in the world each year. As with the Nitto ATP Finals in tennis, the Top 10 Final is unparalleled in equestrian sport, producing the finest level of competition from the world’s best athletes. In 2021 we mark the 20th anniversary of the event, a testament to its long-standing success, made possible through the partnership with Rolex, a brand that has demonstrated a continuous and invaluable commitment to equestrianism for more than 60 years.”

Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
virginie.chevailler@rolex.com
+41 (0) 22 302 2619

Merrick Haydon
rEvolution
mhaydon@revolutionworld.com
+44 (0) 7748 186 833

Inside the Rolex Grand Slam: Special Youth Edition

Photo: Harry Charles.

This week, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has been catching up with the new generation in professional show jumping. Almost 40 years younger than some of their senior competitors, we took a look at how initiatives such as the Young Riders Academy and the introduction of U25 competitions at the Majors gives young riders the opportunity to break into the senior world.

Words from Harry Charles, young rising star of show jumping:

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Definitely competing in the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen; that has always been the dream of mine since I was small and to be able to do it was incredible. I still have to pinch myself that I have done it, to be honest with you. Sometimes when I am hacking with ABC Quantum Cruise at home, I look down and say to him, ‘can you believe that we jumped the Rolex Grand Prix at Aachen?’

Who are your idols / which riders do you look up to?

For me it has always been Scott (Brash). As well as great rider, he’s a really nice guy too so he is definitely my idol. We talk about everything actually and he is always willing to help me out and lend a hand. Especially when I started doing the big shows, he was always the first one who would come and sit with me at breakfast in the morning at the big shows when I didn’t know anyone, which I really appreciated.

The Rolex Grand Slam Majors are promoting youth by organizing more and more U25 competitions; what is your point of view on this?

I think it is great; any chance for a young rider to jump in a top-level event like any of these shows is massively important and influential. Being among the top riders with a big crowd is just amazing, not only to inspire and motivate young riders, but also for their exposure. For example, when I was in Aachen, so many people contacted me, and I think I gained about 400 followers on my social media platforms each day I was there. Taking part in these events really does give you drive, and although you may only be able to jump two classes, it makes you even more motivated at the idea of jumping more later down the line.

Words from Jos Verlooy, European Championship Bronze Medallist:

What do you think are the three most important attributes for being a professional show jumper?

Work ethic is number one for me and I think it is the same in all sports. You have to work hard in order to achieve your goals and you have to be willing to learn. It is also very important to have good people behind you who you trust. Finally, a good relationship with your owners is so important because the role of the owners has evolved so much.

What impact has your owner had on your career?

I have a very good owner and I am very lucky that I could keep riding Igor because a lot of people wanted to buy him. Our sport is not just about riding; it’s about finding the right horses and the right partnerships and that is where the importance of the owners come in; it really is a team effort.

You are almost 40 years younger than some of top riders who are still competing – what are the tools you need to have such a long career?

It’s hard to say, but definitely the most important thing is to have the right horse. Even if you’re 50 you can always learn and keep improving and I think if you have a good horse you can perform at the highest level whatever your age. I have a lot of respect for Ludger Beerbaum who has had an incredible year and always kept the right people behind him. It’s only until you’re in the sport that you realise how difficult it is to have the right horse, the right management, and the right team; you need all pieces in the puzzle, really.

Words from Karen Polle, Japanese rider:

Do you feel a responsibility to help grow the sport of show jumping in Asia?

I am really glad to see that the sport is growing in Asia. As a Japanese and Asian rider, I definitely feel a responsibility and want to play whatever part I can in expanding the sport. I think at least in Japan there is a big interest in horse racing, but not so much show jumping. I think the reason it’s not as popular yet is because it’s not quite as well-known, but I think once people learn how great show jumping is and how great the horses are, I do think it will become very popular. It is all about building awareness around the sport and I think with the Olympic Games coming up this is starting to happen, which is great. The Japanese eventing team is very strong, both individually and as a team. Also, they are hosting an Asian Championship in Thailand in December for the first time and that involves a lot of investment and infrastructure, so there definitely is a growing interest in the sport.

When did you decide you wanted to be a show jumper?

Probably when I was a junior. I competed in the US national jumper championships, and I went into it being a real under-dog. I had an amazing week and my horse was incredible and we ended up winning which was very special. After that I understood what it felt like to win and that’s when I knew I wanted to do show jumping. I thought to myself, if I work really hard, I could maybe achieve more. After that moment I just absolutely loved show jumping and it catapulted from there.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam