London, U.K – December 19, 2021 – Show jumping competition came to a pinnacle at the 2021 London International Horse Show Sunday afternoon with the third and final edition of its FEI World Cup Qualifiers in Jumping, Dressage and Driving taking place. After a year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the famed event celebrated its return to London in 2021, this time at the impressive 100-acre ExCel London venue rather than at its usual home under the glass roof of Olympia Grand. As one one of the most highly anticipated equestrian events of the calendar year, the London International Horse Show plays host to some of the world’s top athletes, many of which aim to garner their last qualifying points of 2021 for the FEI World Cup Western European league throughout five days of Christmas inspired competition. In the €170,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ London CSI5*-W, it was Great Britain’s Harry Charles and Stardust who rode to victory amidst a roaring stadium of spectators on home soil, taking home a priceless holiday gift.
Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) crafted the first round 1.60m track fit for the CSI5* status. The winding course proved to be a challenging one as the first few entries of the 35 total made their way around the arena. The first clear round of the afternoon was delivered by Ireland’s Anthony Condon and SFS Vincomte, who were the third pair to compete. Five trips later, Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker and Haya Loma N would force a jump-off when they crossed the timers without accumulating any faults to their names. Nine others would join the tie-breaking roster, including Michael Duffy (IRL), Noora Forsten (FIN), Geir Gulliksen (NOR), John Whitaker (GBR), Harrie Smolders (NED), Ben Maher (GBR), Charles (GBR) Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Mathew Sampson (GBR).
Condon was first to attempt a clear over the shortened eight-obstacle course. However, he and SFS Vincomte would roll one rail to the ground in 42.75 seconds. The first of the Whitaker family members to compete, Jack, was next to enter. He and Haya Loma N would cross the timers in 38.93 seconds, tipping the same rail as Condon to end on 4 faults. Gulliksen was the first to deliver a double-clear round, notching a time of 38.41 seconds to take an automatic lead. Immediately following, Duffy completed the track without faults in 39.38 seconds, placing him behind Gulliksen. Forsten the posted 4 faults to the scoreboard before John Whitaker became the new leader when he landed from the last fence in 37.50 seconds with the crowd cheering him on. His lead would be short lived however, when Smolders blazed his way through a clear round in 36.77 seconds. Maher was next to contest, completing his round with Faltic HB without acquiring faults, but a time of 38.74 seconds would leave them out of contention for a top three placing. Third-to-last to go, Charles and Stardust laid it all on the line as they entered through the grand doors. The young British athlete put on a spectacular performance, slicing and dicing through the course to finish on a faultless 35.91 seconds and claim the leading position. Fuchs and Sampson both made valiant efforts to unseat Charles, but faults on course would leave him atop the leaderboard at the conclusion of the class. Second place honors would ultimately go to Smolders and Monaco, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Evergate Stables LLC, while third place was given to John Whitaker and his and Clare Whitaker’s 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Unick du Francport.
From a long line of decorated equestrians, Charles’ €170,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ London CSI5*-W win comes exactly 20 years following his father’s win in the same grand prix in London. The 22-year-old athlete beamed at his success in disbelief, crediting his family for their support and his horse, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, for her unwavering scope and talent. The occasion also marked Stardust’s third ever CSI5* grand prix since moving up from the 1.40m classes she started her partnership with Charles earlier in the year.
Show jumping competition at the London International Horse Show will continue Monday, December 20 at the ExCel London venue with the Mistletoe Speed Stakes CSI5* at 10:30 a.m. EST, and will conclude that day with The London Grand Prix at 3:25 p.m. EST.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Harry Charles – €170,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ London CSI5*-W winner
On his win:
“This is the best feeling. I have been coming to this show for years and this is the one every rider in Britain, and I guess around the world, wants to win in front of this crowd. To win at the first show in the new location, I can’t really tell you the exact way I am feeling today. This is my biggest win ever. It is a career highlight so far for sure!”
On the jump-off:
“I did not [watch any previous rounds in the jump-off]. I just stuck to myself. I know my horse is quite small-strided, so I didn’t want to get hung up on numbers or anything. I just stuck to my own plan and it came up alright.”
“I started my partnership with her just at the beginning of the year. We started at the 1.40m and this is really only her third CSI5* grand prix. She has the biggest heart even though she is a small strided horse. She has loads of blood and is super, super careful. She fights. She jumped the Geneva grand prix, which is one of the biggest in the world, last week and she jumped it fairly easily. So, I knew if I did it right and all went to plan, we would have a chance.”
Harrie Smolders – €170,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ London CSI5*-W second place
On the crowd:
“It is always a pleasure to come back to London. It is an amazing atmosphere here, before at Olympia, but also today. [That feeling] never left, and I think we saw spectacular sport today and because of the audience, it makes our achievements greater.”
On his ride to the first fence:
“I don’t know what happened! I think I had the right distance but the fence was in the wrong spot! I had to recover a little bit from one to three in the jump-off, so I didn’t have the smoothest start. I am still very pleased and I can’t complain about the outcome with second place! Huge congratulations to Harry – it is a Harry day today! This is just the start of Harry Charles here with this World Cup win. We are going to see a lot more in the future from him! Also, well done to John [Whitaker]. There is a difference in age but he is still at the top of his game!”
John Whitaker – €170,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ London CSI5*-W third place
On Unick du Francport:
“He jumped great. The course went to plan and how I had decided to ride it. I was a little bit careful at the green in-and-out because it was causing a few problems. Everything else went to plan and basically, I think I just need more experience!!”
On the atmosphere and new venue:
“It is out on it on. This is the class to win, especially for us British riders. For one tiny second, I thought I might win [for my third time here]. I think [the move to ExCel] is very good. It is impossible to fault it. It probably misses a little bit of that Olympia magic, but to be honest, nobody complains. It is so easy now and is better for the horses, easier arriving and leaving with the horses, easier with the parking and hotels close by. The warm up and ring are bigger, although you have the same feeling in the main ring as you did at Olympia. You feel like you are at Olympia in there and the atmosphere is the same!”
€170,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ London CSI5*-W:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Stardust / Harry Charles / GBR / Peter Charles, Princess Haya Bint A / 0 | 69.78 / 0 | 35.91
2. Monaco / Harrie Smolders / NED / Evergate Stables LLC, Harrie Smolders / 0 | 71.00 /
3. Unick du Francport / John Whitaker / GBR / Clare Whitaker, John Whitaker / 0 | 72.62 / 0 | 37.50
4. VDL Groep Quatro / Geir Gulliksen / NOR / Stall Gullik AS / 0 | 70.60 / 0 | 38.41
5. Faltic HB / Ben Maher / GBR / Oakingham Stud / 0 | 72.19 / 0 | 38.74
6. Lapuccino / Michael G Duffy / IRL / Carl Hanley Sporthorses GmbH / 0 | 71.86 / 0 | 39.38
7. Conner Jei / Martin Fuchs / SUI / Adolfo Juri / 0 | 71.13 / 4 | 37.65
8. Haya Loma N / Jack Whitaker / GBR / Michael Potter / 0 | 71.76 / 4 | 38.93
9. Con Caya / Noora Forsten FIN / Josef Weishaupt / 0 | 70.01 / 4 | 39.12
10. SFS Vincomte / Anthony Condon / IRL / Anthony Condon, Pat Hales / 0 | 71.54 / 4 | 42.75
11. Geneve R / Mathew Sampson / GBR / Mathew Sampson / 0 | 70.03 / 5 | 48.00
12. Lord de Muze / Mathieu Billot / FRA / Serge Batailler / 4 | 67.14