‘Pumpkin’s perfect!’: Annabella Pidgley and Gio win their first under-25 grand prix

  • Annabella Pidgley and Gio showed their class to score two superb wins at the ICE Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival Premier League at Hickstead.

    The 17-year-old rider won Friday’s (13 May) inter II and Saturday’s under-25 grand prix on “Pumpkin”, with whom Charlotte Dujardin took double Olympic bronze in Tokyo, with 77.3% and 76.84% respectively.

    “It’s been amazing riding Pumpkin; Charlotte and I say he’s perfect!” Annabella told H&H.

    “I’ve really had to step up my riding but it’s so nice to see improvement every time. This was my first under-25 grand prix and I was a bit nervous; it’s harder than inter II,  but he really looked after me and felt amazing.”

    Annabella said she has learnt a huge amount from riding Gio, from which her other horses have benefited.

    “The feeling of collection from doing piaffe-passage really helps you get the collected trot in the juniors, and the more collected work you do on a grand prix horse almost makes the junior tests feel easy,” she said. “You’re not fazed by one flying change when you’ve been doing 15!”

    Charlotte added that Annabella is a “great student”.

    “To have her to teach and coach and come to competitions with is fantastic,” she said. “We do all the hard work at home; working on all the basics and then fine-tuning, taking a mark from a seven or eight to an eight or nine, which makes all the difference.

    “It’s such a pleasure to watch [Annabella and Pumpkin]. Last year was her first year at advanced medium and she’s only 17; now she’s so close to grand prix with a horse she’s still learning to get to grips with.”

    Annabella also pulled off first and second in the junior team test, on Espe and Sultan Des Paluds FRH respectively, then reversed that order in the junior individual test.

    “Espe’s really incredible; she tries her absolute heart out and today she really tried,” she said. “That’s the best feeling I’ve had in a test with her.”

    Annabella has had the eight-year-old mare since February, while 12-year-old Sultan is the horse with whom she won double silver at last year’s junior European Championships.

    “He made a few mistakes; it’s his first outdoor show and he loves to show off but it’s so nice he’s feeling so fresh and happy; so we can take that power and use it for something incredible,” she said.

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