Harry Charles, 17, is proving a chip off the old block and rode with the super-cool style of his Olympic gold medal winner father Peter at the Dutch Youngster Festival in Wierden.
Just two days before, he provided the crucial final clear on Vivaldi Du Dom to hand the British team first place in the junior Nations Cup, and on the final day the pair again came up trumps to win the junior grand prix.
Only 12 of the 86 starters in the strongly-contended grand prix reached the jump-off and with seven again producing penalty-free rounds, it was all about the clock. But Harry dismissed any pressure to take charge of the top spot in the final draw, guiding the the 12-year-old Vivaldi Du Dom (Casall/Veneur Du Prelet) into victory by 1.78 sec.
"After watching a couple go I knew I could take out a stride between the first two fences - I was going for the win and felt confident as 'Elvis' is so careful. The course suited us with good distances between fences so we could move at a forward pace," said Harry, who rode a rousing gallop to the last. "I knew I was quick but didn't realise until I'd crossed the finish I was almost two sec faster."
Jack Whitaker was also in the mix, providing a double clear for sixth on the 15-year-old Heartbreaker stallion Valentin R. Will Fletcher was unlucky not to join the jump-off with the promising eight-year-old Everytime Anywhere B, but as one of four riders on just one time fault, he had to settle for 14th. Allana Clutterbuck was fastest of the four-faulters with Urlevent Du Bary for 19th.
Youth team manager Clare Whitaker was impressed.
"Harry has ridden exceptionally well, he delivered the clear needed to secure the Nations Cup win as anchor rider, and his talent was again highlighted with an outstanding grand prix win. I was also exremely pleased with Jack, who at 16 rode with maturity beyond his years to produce two faultless rounds," she said.
Oli Fletcher also hit form, heading the children-on-horses grand prix and was narrowly denied a win in the 1.25m.
A strong 65 contenders tackled this 1.30m grand prix with 11 providing round one clears to go forward to the jump-off, Brits claiming two of them. And mid-drawn Oli left no-one in doubt of his intentions, guiding the the nine-year-old mare Dahar (Quasimodo Van De Molendreef/Voltaire) into victory with a 0.88 sec advantage.
"I knew I had fast riders coming behind me so I decided to go for it," said Oli, 14, who couldn't bear to watch the last riders. "It was nerve-wracking, I took my self off to walk around the collecting ring. One rider did beat my time, but they had a fence down and I had to wait until the final rider until I could relax."
Oli's mom Tina - Britain's reserve rider for the London 2012 Olympics - was impressed with the standard in the children-on-horses classes.
"The standard today was incredible. We've been involved at this level for the past two years and the improvement in that short time is astounding. The course was big and technical - the biggest childrens course I've seen," said Tina.
"Riding horses at a younger age teaches the riders so much and plays a pivotal role in their development and today's class has reinforced that though process."
Holly Truelove was in contention, easing the 11-year-old Golly Girl (Grandino/Baloubet Du Rouet) into third, 2.31 sec behind Oli. Four faults in round one dropped Josie Symons (Concordette RR), Anneliese Aitken (Zorland) and Jodie Burchmore Eames (Casti Aneira) out of the running.
Oli also slotted the 11-year-old mare Little Business into second in the children-on-horses 1.25m two-phase to finish 1.39 sec behind the pace. The Netherlands’ Lily Engelsman took the win on Rusedski II – a former top ride for Robert Whitaker. Four faults in the first phase dropped Anneliese Aitken down to 12th on MHS Walk The Line.
Allana Clutterbuck was best Brit in the pony grand prix, finishing sixth on Sue Evans’ Sultan Du Bary. Thirteen of 49 gained initial clears to access the jump-off, but four faults dropped Allana and the Versailles 11-year-old down to sixth spot. Ellie Hall-McAteer also returned four faults in round two on the feisty Tixylix for 10th. Sienna Charles picked up just one time fault in round one on Magic Cornflakes to be denied a jump-off chance and finished 15th. Fraser Reed and Harry posted four faults and Tahnia Jordan-Jones picked up six on Beech Comber.
Ireland dominated, lifting the top two places with Ciaron Nallon in the top spot on Rexter D’Or and Abbie Sweetnam second aboard Dynamite Spartacus, 1.21 sec separating the two.
Chelsea Skelton posted double clears in the junior/young rider 1.35/1.40m on the Wolfgang H 10-year-old Caramba and the Balou Du Rouet 11-year-old Millfield Baloney for 10th and 14th.
Photos © Jumping Around