Daiki Chujo

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I was born in Saitama, near Tokyo, Japan. There were no horses around my town and my family had nothing to do with horses. Then when I was 13, I saw some horse racing on TV and thought jockey did a really cool job. But I didn’t know the difference between racing and equestrian sports. I thought the only horse riders were ‘Jockeys’.

So I thought the best way to become a ‘horse rider’ as a job was to enroll in a racing school. But by then I realised that it was very hard to get into the Japanese racing school unless I had a racing family background, so I searched for the alternatives and found a racing school in Australia.

As soon as I turned 16, I moved to Australia to enroll into the jockey school, near Tweed Heads NSW with my goal being to complete the course and become an apprentice jockey.

I couldn’t really speak English but it was suggested to all the oversea students at the racing school that they should live with an Australian family, which was a great idea. The family I was staying with, who are actually almost like a real family to me now, have been heavily involved with the equestrian riding and really that’s how my passion in equestrian sport was started.

After graduating from the racing school, I moved to Brisbane to be a working student at a riding school. During my two years at the riding school I gained lots of experiences in many ways. One of my greatest memory of that time was that I competed at the QLD Young rider’s championship in showjumping and my other memories include being absolutely broke, earning just enough money from the track work in the morning before the school started to survive and spend on my competitions. I was living in the loft of the school’s hay shed, with the two cats, and as the shed had the open sides it was very cold in winter, even though I was in Queensland! During this time I did have a go at the eventing, but in my very first eventing competition I fell in the ditch, so I thought that was it for my eventing career and stuck to the showjumping.

 

By this time my visa to stay in Australia was running out and I had to do something about it or going back to Japan so I ended up working for a trail riding company called Blazing Saddles in Cairns who offered me a contract for three years with a support to get my residency in Australia. They were getting lots of Japanese tourists and needed someone who spoke Japanese and had a horse experience. 

Although I was prepared to have some sacrifices with my competition career, my eyes and ears were always open in the hope that someone, somewhere could help me continue my equestrian training.

Everyone I asked about equestrian riding in Cairns, said ‘Go to see Christine Doan in Atherton’ so I looked up the phone number in the yellow pages and rang the Carrington Road Stable. I ended up going there to work once a week, on my day off from Blazing Saddles. Since then Christine has been the biggest supporter for my equestrian career.

Working at Carrington Road Stable opened my eyes to Europe. The more time I spent with the people who had been to Europe and heard their stories the more I wanted to go to explore the big wide horse world.

When I had holidays from Blazing Saddles I took the opportunity to fly to Europe twice. The first time I spent time in Honnover, Germany and the next time at Andrew and Bettina Hoys stable in U.K.

The experience at the Hoy stable was amazing. I got to see the real toughness of the sport and I told myself that if I wanted to become a successful eventer I needed to put myself in the place where all the top riders and workers are working hard and competing against each other. When the contract finished with Blazing Saddles, I decided to go back to Hoy’s for a longer term.

Bettina and Andrew Hoy welcomed me to be the part of their team. I must say it wasn’t an easy life, but I learned heaps, had lots of fun and it made me so strong to stay focused for my dream.

At the beginning of 2009, the Hoy stables moved to Germany and because of this I decided to move back to Australia to get back into the competitions. I also got married to Yuko, who I met at Blazing Saddles .... I must say the time I spent in Cairns was a pretty important part of my life!

First I had to choose where to live in Australia. I was searching for somewhere near Vicki Roycroft’s place, as Andrew (Hoy) had suggested I could continue my training with her. A friend of mine was just about to open an agistment place in Raymond Terrace, near Newcastle, which was 1 hour away from Vicki and was looking for someone who had experience in the equine industry to help her business. I couldn’t find any reason not to live in Raymond Terrace and then I discovered Heath and Rozzie Ryan had just moved to Raymond Terrace so it felt like everything was all set up for me to do the training in this area.

With Vicki, Rozzie and Heath’s help I got my first competition horse, Rancho Pennsylvania, since being back in Australia and he took me all the way to 3 Star level competitions. Also Christine had a very exciting young horse, GT Printemps, which I know have with me in Germany.

At the London Olympic, all the Japanese horse people went crazy when Yoshiaki Oiwa took the lead after the dressage phase in the eventing.

After the Olympics, I spoke to Yoshi to say well done and mentioned my dreams and goals to which he replied “Come back to Europe.’’

At first I thought it was too unrealistic for me. But the more I thought about it and after talking to Yuko and Christine I decided to go. In September 2012 I move to Germany with Printemps to base myself with Yoshi and Dirk Schrade.

… the rest of story will continue in my blogs!