The dressage star’s career from unruly youth to Olympic hero

  • 10-year-old gelding Gio was one of the heroes of the equestrian world in 2021, winning two Olympic and two European medals with Charlotte Dujardin – and earning a nomination for the Bloomfields Horse of the Year gong at the Horse & Dog Rewards.

    All eyes will also be on Apache’s son in 2022, as he moves to new pastures under the guidance of his new owner, 16-year-old European junior medalist Annabella Pidgley. As Gio – also known as Pumpkin – changes hands, we take a look back at his remarkable life and career so far …

    July 4, 2011 – a small chestnut colt was born in Ad Valk Dressage, by the grand prix stallion Apache and from Zenzi, a then seven year old mare by the best grand prix stallion KWPN Glock’s Tango. The foal is called Gio.

    2014 – The Franco-Croatian grand prix rider Amélie Kovac hears about a promising, but unsupported and somewhat unruly three-year-old girl from the grand prix rider Emmelie Scholtens, the rider of Apache. Amélie buys Gio and, the following spring, brings him to her base in California, where she renames him Toretto after the main character in the Fast & Furious movie franchise.

    October 2016 – Amélie is asked to fill in at the last minute at the SH Production Symposium at El Campeon Farms – starring Charlotte Dujardin – after a horse that was originally supposed to appear in the clinic became lame. She brings Gio in, and Charlotte admits that she “instantly fell in love with him”.

    “As soon as he walked in I thought, ‘Oh my god, I love this horse.’ Then I saw him trot and gallop and I thought, ‘Oh my god I really I love this horse ‘. said Charlotte.

    After riding Gio the next day, Charlotte asks Amélie how much she wants for the five-year-old gelding, then known in the stables as Pumpkin, and the couple strike a deal.

    november 2016 – after passing a pre-purchase check, Gio arrives at Carl Hester’s yard in Gloucestershire, ready to embark on the next chapter of his life with Charlotte, back under her birth name.

    February 2017 – Charlotte makes her quiet debut at Gio at her first UK show at Hunters Equestrian. The six-year-old gelding scores 74.4% in elementary 44 and 77.94% in elementary 53.

    September 2017 – Charlotte qualifies and competes with Gio at the National Dressage Championships in Stoneleigh, where he is crowned National Elementary Champion, and also wins the final for young six-year-olds.

    Gio at home at the Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin base in early 2018

    2018 – one year of training allows Gio to climb the levels, becoming national reserve champion at the advanced average level at the winter dressage championships and the national dressage championships.

    September 2019 – Gio made more surprising progress, bypassing the st georges and inter I prize to be crowned national inter II champion at the national dressage championships.

    “I was like ‘what’s the point of doing PSG and a little tour with him because he’s so good at pawing and passing,” said Charlotte. “He’s just phenomenal; the bravest and most authentic little horse.

    January 2020 – Charlotte is making Gio’s highly anticipated Grand Prix debut ahead of the coronavirus lockdown, and is stirring a lot of tongues with a staggering 79.57% rate at Addington Equestrian.

    “With most horses his age you have to hold their hand, but it felt so easy – I didn’t even use full power,” Charlotte said.

    October 2020 – Charlotte and Gio return to the arena after the lockdown, with the nine-year-old making his international debut at Keysoe CDI. He again scores 79% in the grand prix, finishing second behind Charlotte’s more experienced grand prix, Mount St John Freestyle, and winning the free grand prix with over 83%, fueling speculation that he could be a horse of championship of the future – and leading to its first H&H blanket.

    Spring 2021 – Excitement over Gio’s team prospects builds as he achieves excellent results in his first full Grand Prix season, including a double win in Hagen, Germany in April and a victory in the Wellington CDI in Hampshire in May.

    Charlotte Dujardin and Gio in Wellington CDI in May 2021

    Charlotte Dujardin and Gio in Wellington CDI in May 2021

    July 1, 2021 – the British team is announced for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and Charlotte Dujardin is selected on Gio, which surprised many people who thought she would choose to ride the more established Freestyle.

    “I chose Pumpkin because I felt it would suit it a bit more with the Tokyo climate,” Charlotte explained to H&H.

    July 27, 2021 – Gio becomes a British national hero as he and Charlotte lead the team, along with Carl Hester and Lottie Fry, to a fantastic team bronze medal in Tokyo, with 79.54% in what was only second 10 year old Gio’s competitive grand prize. special stage.

    July 28, 2021 – Charlotte and Gio exceed all expectations producing a dream freestyle in grand prix and taking individual bronze with a whopping 88.54%.

    “I just went there knowing I wasn’t going to fall without a fight,” said Charlotte, who briefly became Britain’s most decorated Olympian in history with six medals in three Olympics. “But I also wanted to enjoy it and have fun, and I really did. It might be the bronze, but he gave me absolutely everything and he’s a winner in my eyes.

    Delighted Charlotte Dujardin wears her Olympic bronze medal aboard Gio during individual dressage medal ceremony in Tokyo

    Charlotte Dujardin and Gio win individual Olympic bronze at Tokyo Games in 2021

    September 2021 – Charlotte and Gio return to the championship arena, this time at the European Dressage Championships in Hagen, Germany. They are still producing superb performances to help the team take silver and win another individual bronze medal. This brings Gio’s medal total for 2021 to four – more than any other dressage horse this year except Olympic and European champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl TSF Dalera BB.

    “I’m thrilled with him – he tried with all his heart and I couldn’t have asked for much more,” Charlotte said after her freestyle test.

    October 2021 – The new announcement that Gio has been sold to future British rider Annabella Pidgley, with Charlotte confirming that she will coach the new partnership in the future.

    “After taking the time to see [Annabella] ride Pumpkin and fall in love with him as much as we did, I know a wonderful new chapter awaits him, ”said Charlotte.

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