DILTON Marsh eventer Zoe Symes admits she might struggle to top her storming victory at last week’s Badminton BE90 Grassroots Championships.

The 23-year-old and her family-owned gelding Serendipity IV held their nerve to finish top of the pile at one of the country’s biggest amateur competitions, which brings together winners from a host of regional qualifiers.

Symes, who lives in Southampton and works as an oil and gas recruitment consultant, earned a stunning dressage score of 18.3, 4.7 penalties lower than any other competitor, before rolling one pole in the showjumping phase to finish 5.2 penalties clear of her closest challenger with a final score of 22.3.

“I’m still in shock and I don’t think that I was ready for just how big it was – when I won, I thought ‘where do I go from here?’,” said Symes, who also plays hockey for West Wilts “Last year, I had to go through a local qualifier and then a regional qualifier, which was in Broadway, in Worcestershire, to get there.

“My mum (Tania), who also rides, said to me before not to get my hopes up because everyone there would be good enough to win it.

“But I knew that (Serendipity’s) dressage was really good. I think the hardest part was waiting overnight after the first phase and that was really nerve-wracking but we got there on the second day.

“I’m really proud. I think that I might try and do it all again next year but I’ve had my horse for seven-and-a-half years and he’s getting older now, so I don’t want to put him through too much.”

The Grassroots Championships were a precursor to last week’s Badminton Horse Trials showpiece and at their conclusion on Sunday, there was more cause for celebration for the Symes family following Australian Sam Griffiths’ victory.

Symes’ younger sister Alexis, 21, previously worked as a groom for the Badminton champion, who is based near Gillingham in Dorset.

The Grassroots winner added: “My sister worked with Sam Griffiths last year and she was so excited.

“She knows Imogen (Mercer), who was the winning groom, and she was so happy to say that she’d hacked out the horse that won Badminton.”