Annabella Pidgley will take over the ride of Charlotte Dujardin’s Olympic Games and European Championship medallist Gio. What can we expect of this new partnership?
Charlotte Dujardin has sold the 10-year-old Apache gelding to the Pidgley family. Annabella Pidgley is a 16-year-old British dressage rider who has competed for Britain in pony and junior ranks. She is the daughter of late Tony Pidgley, co-founder of the Berkeley Group and equestrian supporter. Her mother Sarah is a dressage rider and judge.
The young rider made her international debut in 2017 riding Farbenfroh. The combination scored a hat-trick at Hickstead CDI that year. She has also been very successful in ponies, partnering with the German-bred mare Ine and the palomino gelding Cognac IX.
She had finished fourth in the team dressage competition at the 2018 pony Europeans at Bishop Burton, and a year later in Strzegom as well. In 2020 she competed individually at Pilisjaszfalu, Hungary, and achieved a top-30 result.
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Alongside ponies, Annabella also stepped up to junior competitions with the stallion Belafonte. They both competed abroad with several three placings in 2020. Moreover, earlier on this year the family purchased the gelding Sultan Des Paluds, son of Soliman De Hus. The French-bred gelding proved to be a great acquisition as the pair won a triple victory at Wellington CDI in May.
Moreover, the pair has competed at the junior European Championships at Oliva, Spain. They won two individual silver medals, and Annabella became the first rider representing Great Britain to claim the individual podium at the FEI Junior European Dressage Championships.
“Although I’d always dreamed of it, I never thought I’d get a medal in my first year of juniors,” -Annabella Pidgley.
Gio is a 10-year old KWPN gelding by Apache out of Zenzi. He is bred by H. de Jong in The Netherlands, and Dujardin used to own him in partnership with New Zealand Renai Hart.
For some time Gio was named Toretto. This is because French-Croatian rider Amelie Kovac discovered Gio in 2014 and imported him to California, renaming the horse after her favourite movie “The Fast and The Furious”.
Dujardin then discovered Gio in October 2016 where she convinced the owner to sell it to her. The gelding moved to the U.K to Carl Hester’s Oaklebrook Mill where Dujardin trained him to reach the highest level.
After riding with Valegro and Mount St. John Freestyle, Dujardin was unbeatable at national level, and so was Gio. The horse and rider pair won the 2019 British Championships at Intermediare II level and later on they participated in the 2019 CDI-W London Olympia Horse Show.
In 2021 Dujardin rode Gio in the Tokyo Olympic Games instead of taking Mount St. John Freestyle with her. The horse showed improved balance, but the piaffes were still difficult as he crossed the legs. In the final score Charlotte and Gio achieved the team and individual bronze in the equestrian sport.
Annabella is turning 17 in November, so she will still be eligible for the juniors in 2022. The 10-year-old Gio has a lot to offer in the next years to come, and the future looks bright for the pair. Annabella is training with her long-term coach Danish rider Cathrine Dufour as well as Charlotte Dujardin.