‘I’ve never ridden so hard’: cafe owner narrowly beats vet to BE90 grassroots title at Badminton

Aimi Clark

An event rider who helps to run her family’s cafe business found herself at the head of the leaderboard in the Voltaire Design BE90 grassroots championship at Badminton today (4 May) after finishing on her dressage score of 29.1.

Amy Dixon (pictured above), 39, who won at Badminton’s inaugural Grassroots Championships 13 years ago, admitted that she puts work first, and that her ride, Goodluck II, sometimes has to play second fiddle and fit in by having early-morning hacks and lessons. 

“I certainly don’t do as much riding as some eventers,” said Amy. 

The Dixon family runs The Bluebird Cafe, which has one outlet on the shores of Coniston Water and one in Bowness-on-Windermere. 

“I work mainly in the office, recruiting staff, organising them, doing the payroll and sorting out holidays. There’s never a dull moment.” said Amy. “My mum and dad [Judith and Phil Dixon] set it up 42 years ago. It’s hard graft, and it was particularly busy during the Covid pandemic when no one could go abroad.”

The 12-year-old, 15.2hh Goodluck II (‘Ronnie’) was bred in Holland and purchased unseen by Amy as a four-year-old. Much of the horse’s work schedule over the years has involved hacking. 

“I keep Ronnie at home and generally ride four or five days a week before work. We head out on hacks a lot and I have a dressage pony called Bertie too. I’ll often ride and lead.” 

‘I saw her being born’

Katie Brickman finished second, just 1.1 penalties behind Amy, with the mare Greenkeld’s Moondance (‘Millie’) after adding 1.6 time penalties on the cross-country.

Katie Brickman and Greenkelds Moondance. Photo credit: Trevor Holt

Katie is a vet who works full time for Ridings Equine Vets in Leeds, specialising in lameness cases.

“I’ve got three horses and I always start early — usually at 4am, especially when I started to prepare for this championship,” she said. “I ride two horses in the morning and one after work at 6-6.30pm, so it’s all go.”

Katie has produced the eight-year-old home-bred mare from scratch. 

“I saw her being born and I’m the only one who’s ever ridden her. I broke her in with help from Kim Richards, who runs the yard where Millie is kept.”

‘I’ve never ridden so hard’

Third-placed Holly Jessett netted third place with Lombard Lad, a horse who came from Ireland via Newfield Horses. 

Holly, 27, works as a primary school teacher at Oxley Park Academy in Milton Keynes. 

“I’ve been a teacher for four years, but it’s my first year at this school,” she said. “I keep my horse on full livery at Foxhill Farm in Eydon. I often work late and I go there just four times a week to ride. I couldn’t manage without them.”

Eighty-seven horses finished the competition, 11 were eliminated and four retired. 

“I’ve never ridden so hard,” said Amy Dixon. “This is my fourth time here, but [the cross-country] was a real test of riding. You had to be on your game the whole way. It was a big ask, and it was technical. I think they had used the terrain like they do in the five-star more than ever before.” 

Final BE90 scoreboard

(format: horse (rider), dressage pens, showjumping pens, cross-country pens = total penalty score)

1, Goodluck II (Amy Dixon), 29.1, 0, 0 = 29.1

2, Greenfield’s Moondance (Katie Brickman), 28.6, 0, 1.6 = 30.2

3, Lombard Lad (Holly Jessett), 30.4, 0, 0 = 30.4

4, Commons Delight (Megan Elphick), 30.4, 0, 0 = 30.4

5, Zuccheros Deff Leppard (Eilidh Herd), 30.4, 0, 0 = 30.4

6, Castlelawn Hendricks Blue (Alison Unwin), 30.5, 0, 0 = 30.5

7, Jamelia (Megan Elphick), 30.6, 0, 0 = 30.6

8, Rant Sam Diamond (Kiera Scott), 30.9, 0, 0 = 30.9

9, Lodor Carl (Katie Mathias), 26.6, 4, 0.4 = 31

10, Strandhill Mick Dundee (Madeline Reader-Smith), 31.3, 0, 0 = 31.3

Our report on the BE100 championship at Badminton will be live on asap 

Badminton CCI5*, presented by Mars Equestrian, kicks off tomorrow (Friday 5 May) with day one of dressage. Find out how to follow the action here.

Profile image of Aimi Clark Aimi Clark


As the editor of Your Horse Online, Aimi oversees all our digital content. She has worked in equestrian media for over 15 years and joined Your Horse as editor in 2017. Aimi has owned and ridden horses all her life. She grew up on a farm in Devon and was a Tetcott & South Tetcott Pony Club member, joining with her first pony — a New Forest called Prudence — before moving on to a Danish Warmblood called Marcus and competing in all activities, but particularly enjoying eventing. She has rehomed and retrained more than 10 ex-racehorses and dabbled in point-to-pointing. There have been plenty of bumps, setbacks and heartache along the way, as well as a lot of fun and many successes. Aimi has two young children and she still loves ex-racehorses. You can often find her hacking her Thoroughbred in the Oxfordshire countryside, flying the flag for Your Horse's #Hack1000Miles challenge.

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