Dominic Gwyn-Jones (above) riding Another Puzzle won a dramatic 2015 Equine R-Oil & The Buying Solution Golden Button Challenge in Gloucestershire today.
Gwyn-Jones, who lives near Newbury but keeps his horse in Leicestershire, came home clear of runner-up William Fox Grant with Wexford’s Paul Scallan in third on Los Galacticos. Sixty-two horses started and 39 finished, but pre-event favourite Zoe Gibson came down at the 11th fence when leading on Tempo, while Catherine Atkinson on strongly-fancied Ace departed a few fences later.
Atkinson was subsequently airlifted to hospital, but later allowed to go home nursing rib injuries.
After galloping for three miles across Ledbury Hunt country and negotiating 25 fences, Gwyn-Jones, who began taking part in similar hunt rides three years ago, said: “I was in the running at the road crossing [fences 17 & 18] before the big drain. I was hoping for a lead there, but that didn’t work out so just kicked for home. I’ve finished second in the Melton and Harborough Hunt rides, but had not won until today.”
A property consultant who hunts with the Belvoir, he added: “My horse is an absolute genius. He came off the racecourse and had a good solid CV for this. He gave me a helluva ride.”
Runner-up Fox Grant said: “I had two stops at the same upright  where Zoe fell and was well behind, but he flew across the last few fields. I nearly came down at the last when a horse stopped in front of me. The course was fantastic and it was beautiful going for the middle of winter.
“Ferrari is 14, but he’s been fantastic. He carried me into second, which is one better than last time, so I’ll be back to win it next time.”
Third-placed Scallan, one of a number of Irish visitors, said: “That was amazing – it was some buzz! I rode in the last Golden Button and fell at the third-last so it was great to get round and finish in the places. I had my eyes closed at the turn into the fourth, but while some of the fences walk massive, they ride brilliant.”
Clerk of the course Tom Leeke, who finished 29th on Oliver, said: “I can’t believe I completed the course! The majority of competitors completed the course and I think it’s been a great success. Fence four [on a 90 degree bend] didn’t cause any of the problems that people predicted and the fences overall jumped really well. I wasn’t really racing, but Oliver was very clever and sensible and jumped past a few.”
Clerk of the Course Tom Leeke, getting round on Oliver
This year’s Golden Button Challenge was jointly-sponsored by Equine R-Oil and property-finding specialists The Buying Solution. Ed Clarkson, who represents The Buying Solution, later took place in the running race which attracted 100 competitors. It was won by 20-year-old Bristol University student James Thompson from Kent, while locally-based Annabel Roberts, an environmental planner from Redmarley, was the first woman to finish.
Summing up the day Clarkson said: “It’s been a marvellous occasion – rather curious and very English. It’s been great fun.”
David Redvers, Joint-Master of the Ledbury Hunt, officiated at the awards ceremony and made special thanks to the Baylis and Leeke families for allowing the event to be staged on their land.
The eight Golden Button winners were:
Dominic Gwyn-Jones riding Another Puzzle – 1st overall
William Fox Grant riding Ferrari – 1st Veteran, 1st Military
Helen Luke riding Millie – 1st Lady, 1st Non-Thoroughbred
Tom Lancaster riding Empress Ming – 1st Heavyweight
Hugo Hunt riding Pepper – 1st Under-21
Sam Dukes riding Raleagh House – 1st Ledbury Hunt Subscriber
The top ten finishers were:
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Andrew Daniels (left) is denied second when Ludicrus refuses the final fence, halting Sam Dukes on Another Raleagh and leaving William Fox Grant (right) and Ferrari on their own in the runner-up spot. Daniels and Dukes turned and completed