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Harry Charles inside attain of the title

  • Britain’s Harry Charles produced a superb performance today (8 April) at the FEI Jumping World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany, to set himself up with a shot at winning the title on Sunday.

    Harry jumped a brilliant double clear with his Tokyo Olympics partner Romeo 88 to finish second in the class, and elevate himself to third in the overall standings going into the final round. He currently sits on five points, the same as Martin Fuchs, winner of Friday’s opener, with the USA’s McLain Ward leading the pack on Contagious.

    Harry has opted to pilot two horses across this final, bringing out the 12-year-old Chacco-Blue mare Stardust on day one for the speed round, before deploying Romeo to jump the next two classes.

    “They are two very different horses; Stardust is a very blood, quick mare whereas Romeo is a big, powerful, scopey jumper. It suited me to have Stardust for the speed leg as I could use her natural pace, and even with a jump down we were not far off the main pack on Thursday. Today was a big enough course, which needed scope and power, and Romeo handled it fairly easily. Going into Sunday, he is more suited to this than Stardust would be, but they’re both fantastic horses.

    “Romeo has been down in Spain and we’ve been doing some two-star classes so this was our first really big class we’ve come back into, but he has so much experience,” added Harry. “He coped with it well; the atmosphere is very busy today but he doesn’t care about things like that. He’s a tough lad and he’ll get stuck in.”

    Harry is one of just three riders in this final opting to switch horses between rounds: the UAE’s Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi rode Alentejo in round one, before swapping to Chacolu, with whom he finished 19th in round two. Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs opted to swap out his day one winner, Chaplin, for the Sinner on day two – a decision that didn’t quite go to plan as a fence down dropped him to joint third in the overall standings with Harry. It is expected that Martin will swap back to Chaplin for Sunday’s final.

    “Only one rider has ever won it with two horses,” pointed out Harry, referring to Marcus Ehning’s 2010 victory riding Noltes Küchenhgirl and Plot Blue. Could Harry become the second?

    Jumping World Cup Final: three Brits in contention

    There is all to play for for Britain’s Jack Whitaker, too, who finished a brilliant third in round two, shooting up the standings from 18th after round one to lie joint ninth with Sweden Jens Fredricson on eight penalties. Jack and the big-jumping grey Equine America Valmy De La Lande have not touched a pole throughout the competition so far, but Jack explained that the gelding is so sharp, it can be a challenge to push him for speed.

    “Yesterday I was a bit slower than I wanted to be; I couldn’t really try to fight for first place because I had to do my own round with him and I did nearly as much as I could, but I would have liked to have been a little bit faster. But I’m really happy to be in with half a chance and hopefully we can capitalise on that.

    Jack Whitaker and Equine America Valmy De La Lande at the Jumping World Cup Final 2022

    “The horse is a fighter,” added Jack of the 13-year-old grey gelding who was ridden by his father, Michael, until three years ago. “Sometimes he’s fighting you, sometimes he’s fighting for you. He’s really sharp and he sees or hears everything. He’s like a big kid who’s never grown up, so I just have to keep it all as relaxed as possible.

    Jack’s uncle, John Whitaker, goes into the final round in 11th place on Equine America Unick du Francport, having just tipped a fence in the jump-off to end up sixth in round two.

    The final round of the Jumping World Cup Final takes place on Sunday (10 April) at 4.45pm (1.45pm BST).

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