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Success stories Virginia and her racehorses follow in the footsteps of pilgrims in charity trek

2nd August 2022
  • Raising money for Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance and Horses4Health
  • Taking the historic Pilgrim’s Way route from Winchester to Canterbury

RoR member, Virginia Rider and her former racehorses have taken on the task of riding over 100 miles to raise money for Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) Air Ambulance provider and the charity Horses4Health.

Both charities hold a special place in Virginia’s heart. After suffering a major accident, Virginia she was airlifted to hospital by KSS. Her substantial injuries included a broken back and the temporary loss of her eyesight and hearing. Following the accident she was unable to ride for six years but Horses4Heath helped her regain confidence she started riding again four years ago.

Key to her recovery was Vivat Rex, who Virginia acquired from Cheveral Racehorse Rehoming. He is a special former racehorse that not only gave Virginia back her confidence but also introduced her to the sport of endurance. Virginia now has a string of horses that she is currently competing in endurance.

Each year she raises funds for both KSS Air Ambulance and Horses4Health and she is now undertaking her most ambition challenge to date.

The Pilgrims’ Way is a historical route from Winchester in Hampshire to Canterbury in Kent and is around 57 miles long but as a horse rider without any crew, Virginia is having to ride loops back to her horsebox daily. Virginia is switching between each of her four former racehorses and sometimes walking her two-year-old appaloosa following the trail. During the challenge she is collecting stamps in her "Pilgrims Passport" from churches and retailers on the route. Once Virginia reaches Canterbury Cathedral, she will then present her fully stamped passport and have the freedom of the cathedral as a bona fide pilgrim, along with her string of horses!

Virginia started the pilgrimage on the 24th July and aims to complete it by the middle of August. The first leg was completed with her appaloosa, Dragonfly, whom she led down footpaths as there was no safe access to ride from her first Church, St Barts of Otford.

Virginia then picked up the trail in Otford with former super star sprinter Growl, formerly trained by Richard Fahey, who completed the first two ridden stages of the pilgrimage to the outskirts of Rochester. During their travels Growl received two blessings en route before riding down a dual carriage way and over the M20 to pass the baton to King’s Future. Known as Henry and now thirteen, King’s Future retired in 2013, still a maiden after 24 starts.

Henry then attended mass at the Aylesford Friary and was blessed by one of the monks, Father Ged, before continuing towards the Kent Showground.

The next stage was to Rochester Cathedral and once again Dragonfly took that leg, being blessed by The Reverend Canon Matthew and parading round the castle and the high street.

During the next stages, the baton will be shared between King’s Future, Elyassaat, her former Shadwell Racing Arab and Dream Farr, now known as Poppet, who currently holds the South East Grass Roots Endurance GB Championship.

We are cheering on Virginia and her string of former racehorses in completing the challenge.

To follow Virginia’s progress and her fundraising efforts, visit https://www.facebook.com/virginia.rider.7


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