Charles and Sherlock Crack the Case at A Coruña

(Last Updated On: December 4, 2023)
Harry Charles and Sherlock (FEI/Mackenzie Clark)

In a puzzling competition that seemed to defy any logic, Britain’s Harry Charles and his 10-year-old gelding Sherlock won through with a thrilling last-to-go run at the seventh leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League at A Coruña in Spain.

Even the super-talented 24-year-old rider, who has twice made the cut to the series Final and who is currently ranked 14th in the world, was taken by surprise with how things worked out. After leaving Javier Trenor’s 13-fence first course intact, he already felt he had achieved a lot with his relatively untried horse.

“He’s very green at this level; it’s only his second or third 1.60m class, so I’m delighted to have a clear with him, and I’m just going to give him a nice trip in the jump-off.

“I’m not going to try any heroics and try and win or anything. It’s more a building round for the future for him. We’ll see how the others go in front of me. I’ve got a good draw and I’ll try and jump another clear and be tight where I can. But I won’t be a danger to any of the other guys!” he said.

He was so wrong.

By the time he would return to the ring, only two of the 14 that made the cut into the second round had managed to leave all the fences up, so Austria’s Max Kuhner and EIC Julius Caesar were already guaranteed at least second spot with the quickest round to date in 45.69 seconds. Spain’s Armando Trapote was already guaranteed at least third when foot-perfect once again with the feisty little Tornado VS, who crossed the line in 45.98. At the end of the day, that’s where they would both stay.

Target

The jump-off began with an eight-fault result for Switzerland’s Barbara Schnieper and Carnice, and then Belgium’s Pieter Devos looked like setting a strong target with Mom’s Toupie de la Roque, only to leave the very last fence on the floor. From there on it would be the turn to the two remaining elements of the triple combination at fence seven that would create most difficulty; Italy’s Emanuele Camilli (Odense Odeveld), Sweden’s Evelina Tovek (Moeboetoe v/d Roshoeve), Spain’s Santiago Nunez Riva (Chakira Z), and The Netherlands’ Leopold van Asten (VDL Groep Iron Z) all faulted there before world number one, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (Glamour Girl), lowered just the second fence, the vertical at fence three, in a fast time of 42.17 seconds.

With seven still to go, it seemed a clear must surely be soon on the horizon, but both Germany’s Christian Ahlmann (Mandato van de Neerheide) and Spain’s Mariano Martinez Bastida (Belano vd Wijnhoeve Z) didn’t get it right at the oxer off the turn from fence three, while it was the bogey first element of fence seven that penalised Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca (F One USA).

With four left to go, the crowd went wild when Armando Trapote brought the aptly-named Tornado home with the first clear of the jump-off in 45.98 seconds, and then Kuhner and Julius Caesar followed suit in the faster time of 45.69, their super turn to the third-last giving them the advantage. The penultimate pair, Dutchman Willem Greve and Highway TV NOP, looked set to take a mighty lead, only to hit the very last in 42.57 seconds, and then it was down to Charles.

History

He has some history with this leg of the Western European League at A Coruña, which this year was celebrating its seventh edition. Twelve months ago, in stark contrast, just two horse-and-rider combinations made the cut to the jump-off, and, riding Casquo Blue, the young Briton had to settle for runner-up spot behind Germany’s Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann and Messi van’t Ruytershof. He was suddenly presented with the opportunity to put that to rights.

“These are the jump-offs you always find yourself sitting and watching but you never seem to be in it, but luckily today I was in it, and I couldn’t quite believe it – poles were coming down all over the place!

“When I saw that then my perspective started changing; maybe we could do something here, but it was still a very big ask to get him to go in and do what he did – I really can’t believe it. I’m lost for words for Sherlock! He’s just an incredible horse!” said Charles, after storming to victory with a clear in 44.92 seconds.

“It probably wasn’t the prettiest round I’ve ever ridden. I had to hustle and bustle a little bit and when I finished, the emotion came out a little bit, but I couldn’t really help it, because I couldn’t quite believe it!” he added after punching the air with delight.

Kuhner also has some history with this event, finishing third behind Charles last year with Up Too Jacco Blue. He was more than pleased with his second-place finish with his promising nine-year-old. 

There were no clears posted before the Austrian rider set off, twelfth to go in the jump-off, but he said he has great trust in this horse, and he was determined to show his potential. “He’s young but he has a lot of quality,, so usually he really likes to be clear. So I speeded up a little bit but I didn’t take a big, big risk and he jumped fantastic again! He has all the rideability. I just need to let it out. He’s really a horse for the future,” said the world number nine rider.

Impression

Third-place Armando Trapote is at the other end of the spectrum, currently ranked 264 but making a huge impression over the last year thanks to some great performances with the sparky 12-year-old gelding Tornado VS. 

After jumping clear in the first round, the Spanish rider said with great modesty, “My horse is really fast and he’s really good; the doubt is if I’m good enough to be as good as the other riders, because I’m not even close to them! But I have a good horse and I will try!”

Tornado certainly didn’t let him down. “It’s fantastic and I’m very proud of him; he gave everything and I tried my best; it was a fantastic result for me! I was eleventh to go and there were no clears, so I just tried to be clear. A little bit fast but not crazy and that’s what I did!” said the man whose ranking belies the individual 15th-place finish he achieved together with his slight little gelding at the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 in Milan (ITA) this summer. They haven’t come out of nowhere.

Meanwhile, Charles was delighted with his win with a horse who is still only learning his trade.

“He’s like my baby. I’ve had him since he was a five-year-old, and I’ve done everything with him. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him!

“Maybe he came up a bit quicker than I thought he would. I really used the last few shows as developing shows for him and he had two down in Madrid last weekend, but the feeling was actually really good and he did it with ease. And then straightaway next weekend he comes and wins this one! In another six months, he’s going to be a very dangerous horse to have!” he said, very happy to have added another big winner to his string.

The British rider has now moved into pole position on the Western European League table ahead of fellow-countryman and reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher in second place, while defending series champion and world number one, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, lies third going into the next leg in London (GBR).

Result

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

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