18-year-old Annabella Pidgley has made history by becoming the first British dressage rider to win a gold medal in the Young Rider age category (18-25) at the FEI European Championships.
Riding her mother Sarah Pidgley’s German-bred mare Espe, Annabella led the Brits to an emphatic team Bronze medal at the start of the week – the first in this age category since 2005 – before going on to secure Individual and Freestyle gold medals. The Windsor-based student achieved three personal best scores at the Championships under the guidance of her coach and mentor, double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin, who joined Annabella and her team at the Championships in Budapest region, Pilisjászfalu, Hungary.
On her history making performance, Annabella commented:
It’s a dream come true to become European Champion. It’s our first Young Rider European Championships and to come away with the first individual Young Rider medal in British Dressage history, and that being a gold medal, was quite incredible.”
The talented young rider was full of praise for her equine partner, Espe, recognising the bond between horse and rider that creates perfect harmony in the dressage arena:
She’s such an incredible mare with a beautiful heart and I’m so grateful to her for being so amazing over the last week. We enjoy this moment together.”
Jason Brautigam, British Dressage CEO commented:
Everyone at British Dressage is thrilled by this success, so on behalf of the Board, staff, and wider team, I would like to congratulate Annabella and the Young Rider team on their outstanding performance in Hungary. The last time we secured a team medal was back in 2005 – and these are the first ever individual dressage medals won by a British athlete at the FEI Young Rider European Championships. These achievements are testament to the hours of hard work and dedication given to the sport by the riders, parents, coaches, and support teams, and we are enormously grateful for their contribution.
Three medals at this event, following the three medals won by the Juniors at Hartpury last year, demonstrates the strength and depth we now have in our Under 21 ranks – and the future for British Dressage looks very bright indeed. Annabella has personally amassed eight medals in just three years, underlining what an exciting and talented young rider she is.”
Annabella’s achievement adds her to a select group of just three British Dressage riders to have achieved FEI European Champion status; Charlotte Dujardin (Senior), Charlotte Fry (U25 Grand Prix – 16-25) and Phoebe Peters (Pony – 12-16).
FEI Young Rider European Championship winning scores:
Team test – 75.147%
Individual test – 76.941%
Freestyle to Music test – 80.505%
Feature Image: Annabella Pidgley, image credit Łukasz Kowalski / British Dressage