‘I know he’ll deliver in Tokyo’: Charlotte Dujardin on her surprise Olympic ride

  • The British Olympic dressage team was announced this morning, with Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Lottie Fry and Gareth Hughes confirmed as the four riders who will travel to the Tokyo Games.

    But it came as a surprise to many that Charlotte Dujardin was not selected on her more experienced world bronze medallist Mount St John Freestyle, but instead the younger gelding Gio. H&H caught up with Charlotte shortly after the announcement to find out why she wanted to ride the 10-year-old Apache x Tango gelding, known as Pumpkin, and why she is excited about his chances.

    “I chose Pumpkin because I felt it would suit him a bit more with the climate out in Tokyo,” Charlotte told H&H. “We’re not really sure how they will be and we won’t know until we’re out there, but Pumpkin is younger [than Freestyle] and he has a little more in him for the heat, I think.

    “Freestyle is incredible of course – I’m not taking anything away from Freestyle. She is amazing and we still have the Europeans and the following years to come. I want to try to think of Paris 2024 as well – it’s not far away when you think about it and it’s going to be round the corner very soon.

    “But I’m so proud of Pumpkin; I bought him as a young horse, and to be going to the Olympic Games with another horse, well I can’t think of a better one. He hasn’t got the extended trot that Freestyle has, but he has so many other highlights.”

    Charlotte first spotted the little chestnut gelding, who stands at just 16hh, while teaching a clinic in the USA in 2016, and immediately fell in love with him. He competed lightly through the levels, but came out at grand prix in 2020 and has proved extremely talented.

    He did his first international grand prix special at Wellington CDI in May, scoring 81.43%, and also scored plus-81% in a grand prix at Vale View Premier League in June, going on to perform in front of a delighted crowd at Royal Windsor on Wednesday (30 June), along with the other shortlisted Olympic entries.

    “I took him to Windsor and there were 1,000 people there; he hasn’t seen people in a long time, but it doesn’t bother him – he always does the job, so I can’t ask for much more,” said Charlotte.

    “He is going to the Olympic Games having only done one special and one freestyle in his entire life, but the horse is just fantastic and I know he’ll deliver. All I can do is go out there and try my best, and I know he’ll try his best.”

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