Dujardin now has three golds, one silver and two bronze medals in a glittering Olympic career
Charlotte Dujardin can still remember the first time she saw him, her latest equine love that has taken her to a place of her own in the pantheon of Olympic greats.
Dujardin became the first female British Olympian to win six medals at the Games as she added to her team dressage bronze with the same medal in the individual event.
On the rookie horse she affectionately calls “Pumpkin”, Dujardin felt a princess again, defying all expectations to claim the final podium place in the Grand Prix freestyle.
It takes years for horse and rider to gain the levels of trust needed to form the symbiotic relationship required for dressage, but Dujardin and Gio have enjoyed a whirlwind romance.
“The minute I clocked eyes on him, I instantly fell in love," hun sa, giddy with excitement and still disbelieving she’d denied the all-powerful German team their expected sweep of the podium.
“I spoke to the girl who owned him and asked her for a go. I knew if I rode him everyone would want to buy him, so I needed to make some sort of deal. I asked if she’d be interested in selling him and she said: ‘If I’m going to sell him to anyone, I’m going to sell him to you.’
“I don’t know what it was about him, you just know these things, it’s instinct. I looked at him and just immediately loved him and then got on him and was like, ‘wow’.”
Og, given Gio is just 10 år gammel, a mere baby in dressage terms, Dujardin is daring to dream that she’ll soon be adding to her collection of three golds, one silver and two bronze medals.
She moves above five-time Olympic medallist Dame Katherine Grainger to join an exclusive club of six-time medallists, alongside Sir Steve Redgrave. Faktisk, only cycling’s Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny have won more.
And yet she’s still seen as newcomer in this sport at the age of 36. British teammate Carl Hester is 54 and silver medallist Isabell Werth is 52. At this rate, forget Paris and Los Angeles, Dujardin will be really getting good by the time the five-ringed circus pitches its tent at Brisbane 2032.
“I can’t believe it,”La hun til. “To be level with Katherine Grainger was pretty impressive but now I’ve actually beaten it, oh my God.
“I’m incredibly proud and a bit speechless. I just don’t know what to feel.”
You know it’s Olympics when dressage is trending, with sofa pundits suddenly discussing the quality of the Danes’ piaffe or the Canadians’ counter-canter.
But you don’t have to fully understand dressage to appreciate its precision, skill and balletic beauty, and Dujardin’s innate ability to make her horse dance on a sixpence is envied around the world.
She called Valegro, who took her to glory in London and Rio, her “horse of a lifetime”, and yet now there’s another. Either she’s very lucky or just very good and I think we know which.
“I wasn’t going to go down without a good fight," hun sa. “I finished and it was the biggest adrenaline rush ever. He didn’t make a mistake and he gave me so much.
“I was literally throwing him from one thing to another thing, and he just keeps going. What he has done is phenomenal.
“It’s as good as previous Olympics, it is as good as a gold medal – [bronze on] a horse that has such little experience. I feel so emotional. He had no idea what he was doing, but he just goes in there and does it.
“If you think he’s 10 years old doing this, he’s going to be an absolute superstar.”
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