Grassroots riders enjoy “thrill of a lifetime”
Badminton is Kate Raynor’s local event, so it was a massive thrill to win, at her first event, the BE100 Voltaire Grassroots Championship, riding the 15-year-old Annandale Idris.
“I always came to watch the trot-up and would see the Grassroots winners coming to collect their prizes, so I can’t believe it’s me this time,” she said after heading a field of 43.
“But I knew that if my horse was at the top of his game we would have a chance. He is a horse that loves to work and he loves his eventing.”
Kate, who lives at Yatton Keynell, is a freelance instructor who teaches at Stonor School and does night-watch duties at West Kington Stud. She trains through Bath Riding Club with Anthony Perkins.
The runner-up, Devon-based Jane Rogers, is usually to be seen supporting her eventer son, Tim Rogers – she also groomed for Clissy Bleekman back in the 1980s.
She bred her mount, Corrieview Merlin Magic: “Tim was away working for Harry Meade at the time, and I thought, why sell him? I love him to bits; he always looks after me.”
Jane had a hectic preparation – she had to make hundreds of scones for her sister’s teashop before setting off for Badminton.
Third-placed Katie Wood, 17, who is in the middle of her A levels revision, was making her first ever visit to Badminton, but she is from an experienced eventing family: her mother, Cilla Backhouse, represented Britain at under-21 level and her grandmother, Ann Backhouse, was well known on the international stage.
“They are both very supportive of me,” said Katie, “but nothing can prepare you for the size of Badminton.” She produced her horse, Solitaire King, from a four-year-old and is aiming for the CCI2* at Blair Castle.
Cakes were also on the mind of the BE90 Voltaire Grassroots Championship winner: Amy Dixon runs a family cafe in Coniston, in the Lake District. Amy has the distinction of having won the inaugural Grassroots Championship at Badminton, in 2010, on Made in Holland.
She rose from eighth place after dressage on the appropriately named Goodluck ll to the top spot. “I came here with no expectations other than to have a lovely time, and I didn’t think there was any way I would win,” said Amy.
“Horses are a true passion. I come from a totally non-horsey family, so this is a major thrill. The cross-country course was a real rider course; you had to be on your A game.”
BE90 runner-up Katie Brickman, riding Greenkelds Moondance, was paying her first visit to the competition and said she had “loved it – it was the ride of a lifetime”. She works as an equine vet in Leeds, specialising in lameness and poor performance in sport horses.
Third-placed Holly Jessett, riding Lombar Lad, is a primary-school teacher and, fortunately asked for time off back in October.
The BE90 was hugely competitive, with 87 completions and, no doubt, some future five-star competitors among them.