Peter Charles: Bruce Springsteen bought my Olympic-winning horse

What do Bruce Springsteen and an Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper have in common?

It sounds like the start of a joke you might find in your Christmas cracker, but there is a legitimate answer.

In September, Peter Charles sold Vindicat, the horse he rode to gold at London 2012, to 'The Boss'.

Charles explained: "Part of the business is supplying to the up-and-coming riders in the sport.

"Bruce's daughter [Jessica] is an up-and-coming rider and they needed a horse of that calibre so that they can get experience in the ring.

"I spoke to Bruce himself and he said they watched the horse and fell in love with him, and asked if he would be for sale.

Peter Charles wins gold for Great Britain at London 2012

When we arrived in Greenwich, you thought 'we can't get this wrong'. I wasn't going to let anyone down. There was no way that was going to happen.

Peter Charles

"Although it was tough for me to part company with him, I knew it would put a lot of money back into the lower ranks and help me purchase better horses for the future.

"Jessica came and tried the horse, and it was all done in an afternoon's work."

While Vindicat adjusts to his new home in Florida, Charles can look back fondly at the special partnership they shared, which culminated in a glorious August afternoon in Greenwich.

Not since 1952 had Great Britain won an Olympic showjumping gold, but Charles, Nick Skelton, Scott Brash and Ben Maher held their nerve to clinch victory, following a tense jump-off with the Netherlands.

He continued: "The expectations will never be higher in my lifetime.

"When we arrived in Greenwich, you thought 'we can't get this wrong'. I wasn't going to let anyone down. There was no way that was going to happen.

"Those moments all have a very special meaning. I often ask 'how did a little lad from Liverpool end up here in London at the Olympics?' That was my dream, and dreams can happen."

The 52-year-old's tale is a real rags-to-riches story.

He grew up in Bootle, but after losing both of his parents before the age of 15, he chose to pursue his lifelong ambition.

"I ended up on a boat to Ireland," he remembers. "I left school, took £10 with me and started off a career over there with horses.

"There was a lot of fun, a lot of hard work and a lot of disappointments along the way, but I never lost sight of what I wanted to do and that was to be a professional showjumper."

Charles competed for Ireland in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, by which time he had relocated to Hampshire.

Ben Maher

Great Britain capture their first Olympic showjumping gold medal in 60 years

His dreams of Olympic gold appeared to be over when, in 2006, he suffered a horrendous fall during a show, rupturing his spinal sheath, shattering three ribs and breaking a vertebra.

After recovering several months later, he decided to switch nationality and compete for Great Britain, paving the road to London 2012.

He admits that the demands on his time are greater since winning gold in London, but that has not dampened his appetite for more success in Rio in 2016.

"There's a big possibility that could happen if the body stands up to it," said Charles. "That's the hardest thing for the minute, keeping all the bits and pieces in shape.

"We have to do a lot of training leading up to it and if the combination with my new horse works, I think we'll have a serious chance."