Set for Somerford: Annabella Pidgley and Gio

  • Written By: British Dressage | Alice Daish
  • Published: Wed, 10 Aug 2022 09:49 GMT

Annabella and Gio made their debut in February this year and have since enjoyed a very impressive start to their career together, now they're making their way to their first Championships – the LeMieux Nationals!

Annabella Pidgley & Gio c Spidge Event Photography

Starting their new partnership and kicking off the season at Myerscough College, in March the pair won the Stübben Intermediate II which was their first relationship building show giving them both the footing for the year to come. It was then almost two months of training until Keysoe Premier League in May where they also won the Stübben Intermediate II. This was only their third show together and having the daunting task of following in Charlotte Dujardin’s stirrups on one of Britain’s most popular horses, Gio, aka Pumpkin Annabella proved she was capable of the power.

Focusing on their training in the run up to the competition she commented, “Pumpkin and I are still growing our partnership and he has challenged me to step up to the higher level work, which has really helped me as a rider and working with the other horses. He tried his heart out as always and we won with 78.5% against so many riders I follow and respect.”

At this point it was early days for the pair but Annabella’s training and support from Charlotte Dujardin was giving her the boost she needed, “It is a little nerve wracking taking on such a powerhouse of a horse but he has such a lovely character and almost encourages me to be brave with him.”

Hickstead Premier League soon followed next where they both showed their vast potential by winning Friday’s Stübben Intermediate II and Saturday’s U25 Grand Prix by a large margin. “He felt amazing, it was only our fourth Inter II test and it was a big improvement on our last one at Keysoe two weekends ago, especially our trot work as we’ve been working hard on putting more power in that and it paid off today,” Annabella said about the show.

Trainer Charlotte has been developing the pairs bond, “It’s fine tuning really, we know all the movements and can do the test without mistakes but it’s now its about turning a 7 into an 8, it makes a huge difference.”

Before gaining the ride Gio (Apache x Tango) enjoyed a spectacular summer of success in 2021 with Charlotte winning team and individual bronze in Tokyo, and team silver and Freestyle bronze at the European Championships in Hagen. Now watching from the side lines Charlotte finds it very rewarding, “I feel so proud watching this combination, Annabella is only seventeen and last year was her first year at Advanced Medium and now she’s riding Inter II, so close to Grand Prix and on a horse she is still learning to get to know. Gio is an incredible horse, he holds her hand the whole way round and between the two of them they help each other out.”

Last on the list was the home of the LeMeiux National Championships, Somerford Park where yet again Annabella won the U25 Grand Prix on 76%+ with Gio, her second of the season.

Annabella is no stranger to success coming home with a silver Junior European Medal on her other ride Sultan de Paluds last year at Oliva. More recently competing on home soil at Hartpury for this year's European Championships adding more medals to her record to achieve Team Bronze, Individual Bronze and Freestyle Silver. Having numerous International wins since starting her career in ponies and now junior International teams Annabella is on the road to gold.