BENTWORTH’S Harry Charles, the son of London 2012 gold medallist Peter Charles, capped a brilliant European Championships when he won the Young Rider individual gold medal in Fontainebleau, France on Sunday – his 19th birthday.
Having already done Great Britain proud on Friday as part of the gold medal winning Young Rider team, Harry produced two immaculate rounds to become a European champion.
He achieved his double gold with Vivaldi Du Dom, ‘Elvis’ to his friends, a 13-year-old chestnut gelding owned by his father, and brought the British medal haul from these championships to four.
Charles Jnr, who made the step-up to Young Riders just this year after a successful campaign as a junior, was focused on gold from the start. After three rounds, he headed the Young Rider standings on 6.72 penalties and came into the arena on Sunday strongly fancied to top the podium.
The competition proved to be tough, with the horses picking up faults all over the course, but Charles rode superbly to deliver a double clear on Vivaldi du Dom and was one of only two riders to keep a clean sheet on the day.
With his support team, including father Peter, mother Tara and his sisters, looking on, he punched the air with delight as he crossed the finish line for a second time with all the fences intact. He knew he was the new Young Rider European champion.
Cedric Wolf, on Cho Chang J, took silver with 13.65 penalties and Felix Koller, with Captain Future, claimed the bronze on 15.06 penalties.
Harry Charles and Vivaldi du Dom are now seasoned European Championship campaigners and this success takes their haul of medals to six. They previously won team silver and individual silver at the 2017 European Championships in Samorin, Slovakia and team bronze and individual silver at the 2015 European Championships in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
“It was one of the craziest weeks of my life – to become European champion for the Young Riders with Elvis was honestly a dream come true,” said birthday boy Harry. “To have jumped three championships and won six medals is something extraordinary and I’ll never be able to thank him enough. To my team at home, sponsors, family and friends, thank you all so much for making this possible. It was a week I’ll never forget.”
Earlier, going into the final leg of the team competition, GB were in pole position ahead of Germany and Denmark. Harry Charles and ‘Elvis’, taking the vital anchor role, began with nine penalties in hand. They looked set for a third clear round, only to nudge off a top rail, but did comfortably enough to ensure the gold.
Initially, all three Charles siblings – Harry, Sienna and Scarlett – were selected to represent Great Britain in Fontainebleau, but Scarlett had to withdraw after an injury to her horse, Danny, while training.
Sienna was riding Chaitanya (Flicka), an 11-year-old grey mare owned by her father, and she also had an excellent week, jumping two clear rounds to help Great Britain Juniors take the team silver.
She was also in contention to win an individual medal and was amongst the overnight leaders going into the finals. Flicka jumped her socks off, but 15-year-old Sienna, one of the youngest riders in the field, missed out on a medal after incurring 8 penalties for two fences down halfway round.