Grassroots champions bask in Badminton glory

Grassroots champions bask in Badminton glory

The 2022 Voltaire Design Grassroots Championships was an incredible experience for grassroots members as they achieve their ambitions

Katherine Illingworth had the thrill of a lifetime when winning the Voltaire Design Grassroots Championships (BE100) on Philip Adkins’ Ballinoecastle Q, a seven-year-old by Obos Quality.

Katherine, 27, who acts as head girl for Philip’s Cadenza Eventing yard in Northamptonshire, added nothing to her dressage score of 29.5 to finish 1.5 penalties ahead of Hannah Taylor, whohas a threefold career as an engineering student, part-time rider and pet portraitist, riding her own Legaland Best One.

Katie Stephens-Grandy, a farmer and photographer from North Yorkshire, was third on Trendy Magic Touch.

It was a big day for amateur riders, who unanimously declared their day on the hallowed turf of the Badminton park to be ‘brilliant’.

“The atmosphere is fantastic, everyone helps you,” said Katherine, who was quick to pay tribute to her employer.

“I’m very lucky to compete Philip’s horses and I can’t thank him enough. He has put a lot of work and money into my riding.”

Siobhan Heneghan won the BE90 championship on her mother Lisa’s Mermured Promise, an 11-year-old, Irish-bred iron-grey gelding by Mermus. She finished on her dressage score of 28, 1.5 penalties clear of runner-up Laura Gibson, a veterinary physiotherapist, on Sally Hayward’s Gortglas Moonshine. Third was Megan Elphick on her own Jamelia.

“This has been the best experience ever,” said Siobhan, a 20-year-old trainee accountant from south Oxfordshire.

“I just wanted to come here and have a nice time – I never expected to win.”

British Eventing’s Chief Executive Helen West added: “Having the Voltaire Design Grassroots Championships at Badminton is absolutely key to British Eventing.

“It’s the pinnacle for our grassroots members and it’s our crown jewels. It’s what so many of our members aspire to do and in competing here today, they’ve achieved a lifetime ambition – and that is very, very special.”