Harry as GB’s travelling alternate rider at the Tokyo Olympics

Harry was speaking to Horse&Hound at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

"Watching London 2012 was a real eye-opener for me".

“When I saw my dad in London 2012, I didn’t know that in 2021 I could be giving it a go myself”, said Harry, who will be following in the footsteps of his Olympian father Peter when he heads to Tokyo later this month.

On 2 July, Harry was named as the travelling alternate rider for the British showjumping squad, making him, at age 22, the youngest member of the Olympic showjumping teams announced so far.

His father Peter Charles competed for Ireland in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics before switching his nationality back to British. He went on to secure gold for Team GB when he delivered the critical clear round at the London 2012 Olympics aboard Vindicat W.

“Seeing my dad compete in London was a real eye-opener for me, I saw what you could achieve and just how big the sport can be,” said Harry, who was 12 at the time.

Harry recalled how he had learned the art of sang froid from watching both Scott — who is renowned for his ice-cool nerve — and his father’s 2012 Olympic performance.

“One of biggest things I learned from my dad in London was watching how he behaved when he got off to a terrible start with the horse — he used some colourful language, but he was never worried,” Harry said.

“My mum was having a bit of a meltdown, but he said ‘don’t worry’. On the last day he it fell to him to jump [the critical] clear and he pulled it out of the bag without one bit of stress. I think my sisters [Scarlett and Sienna] and I saw that and picked up on it.

“Growing up, I like to think maybe inherited some of that coolness, though I am not quite as cool as Scott!”

Harry acknowledged that he could not have achieved his squad place without the benefit of his father’s experience, but that finding the right owner at the right time had also been critical.

“I couldn’t have done it without him, his help and his management have been super and he has been invested in it as much as I have.” Harry said.

“He knows exactly how you have to work to get there, especially during the last year of build up. It feels like we worked hard every day for it for the past two or three years.” While the lockdowns of the past 18 months had been “very frustrating”, the situation also presented new opportunities for Harry.

“I had to go back to working at home, training, and looking back at it now, I had some new opportunities; I had some time to bring in a completely new string of horses,” he said.

“This was something that just came together and I can’t thank Ann Thompson enough for believing in me, believing in my program and taking this chance to support my career. To have a woman who is successful and strong in her own right support my career, I think it is so meaningful, but is also an advantage because she has been through the struggles I know I will face.”

Interview from HorseandHound.co.uk, july 2021

« Back