Charlotte Dujardin

Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin OBE is one of the world’s top dressage riders.  She initially sprang to prominence with her former world number one partner Valegro and they still hold the world record scores in all three grand prix dressage tests. Since Valegro retired in 2016 Charlotte has trained numerous horses to grand prix and continues to be a regular on the British dressage team at championships.

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Charlotte Dujardin ridig Valgero at the Rio Olympics.

Born in Enfield in 1985, Charlotte was brought up in Hertfordshire and started riding at the age of two. After she left school at the age of 16, Charlotte worked for top dressage rider and trainer Judy Harvey. In early 2007, at Judy’s suggestion, Charlotte went  to Carl Hester’s yard for some lessons, and he asked her to stay on for 10 days to cover for a staff member who was on leave. She ended up never leaving, and produced Valegro from the early days of his career under the watchful eye of Carl, who owns the horse in conjunction with Roly Luard and Anne Barrott.

A glittering career

Charlotte Dujardin’s notable successes include:

  • Double Olympic champion with Valegro in London 2012 and Rio 2016. also winning team gold in 2012 and team silver in 2016.
  • Double Olympic bronze medallist with Gio at the Olympics in Tokyo, held in 2021 after Covid-19 caused a year’s delay.
  • Represented Britain at four European Championships, winning team gold, silver and bronze medals, and individual gold medals with Valegro in 2013 and 2015.
  • Crowned world champion with Valegro at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG), where they set a new WEG record and helped Britain to team silver.
  • Back-to-back World Cup titles with Valegro, in 2014 and 2015.
  • Achieving world records in the grand prix (87.46%, Olympia 2014); grand prix special (88.022%, Hagen 2012) and grand prix freestyle (94.3%, Olympia 2014)
  • Crowned the Sunday Times and Sky Sports 2014 Sportwoman of the Year.
  • Nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2014, finishing fourth.
  • Named the Horse & Hound Professional Rider of the Decade in 2020.

Valegro was retired from competition in December 2016, with an emotional ceremony at Olympia.

The post-Valegro era

Charlotte Dujardin returned to the highest level of the sport in 2018 with the Fidermark mare Mount St John Freestyle, leading Britain to team bronze at the WEG in Tryon, USA, and also winning individual bronze. The grand prix freestyle was cancelled as a result of Hurricane Florence.

Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle during the grand prix in Rotterdam.

Charlotte and Mount St John Freestyle represented Britain at the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam, but were eliminated after their 81.91% grand prix. The pair then enjoyed a highly successful winter season, winning the 2019 World Cup qualifier at Olympia, and qualifying for the 2020 World Cup final, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Charlotte Dujardin was crowned British national champion in December 2020, winning the National Grand Prix Championships with Mount St John Freestyle, and scoring over 90% for their freestyle test.

In 2020, Charlotte introduced another exciting international grand prix ride, the Apache son Gio. On their international debut, the pair won the grand prix freestyle at Keysoe CDI. Charlotte and Gio were selected as members of the British Olympic dressage team for the Tokyo Games in 2021 and went on to win team and individual bronze medals in Japan. They also won team silver and individual bronze at the 2021 European Championships in Hagen, Germany.

Charlotte Dujardin riding Gio (Stable name Pumpkin) at the yard she shares with Carl Hester in Gloucestershire, UK

In October 2021, it was revealed that Gio had been sold to the Pidgley family. The Everdale gelding Imhotep (pictured below), owned by Carl Hester and Coral Ingham, graduated to become the top ride of Charlotte Dujardin for 2022. The pair were selected for the British team for the World Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark, and helped the team win the silver medal. They also finished seventh in the grand prix special and 10th in the freestyle.

Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep sit in second in the World Dressage Championships results on the second day of the grand prix

Shortly after returning from the Herning World Championships, Charlotte Dujardin announced that she was pregnant with her first child. Her baby daughter, Isabella Rose, was born to Charlotte and her fiancé, Dean Golding, on 6 March 2023.