Under orders for 2018 Golden Button Challenge
When Grand National-winning jockey Paul Carberry says “The Golden Button Challenge is the closest thing to riding in a race for me, it’s the same buzz” then you know it’s something special.
First run in 2006 — when won by Yvonne Goss [who rides again this year]— the Ledbury Hunt’s Golden Button Challenge takes place over three miles of rolling Gloucestershire countryside. It has a fearsome reputation and attracts riders from all over the world, from a variety of backgrounds.
This year’s Golden Button takes place in Ledbury Hunt country, Tirley in Gloucestershire, close to Tweenhills Farm and Stud in Hartpury. Tweenhills manager and Ledbury Joint-Master David Redvers designed the course with Clerk of the Course Roger Warner, Ed Philipson-Stow and point-to-point rider David Mansell.
Around 50 riders are expected to go to post, and they will need to successfully navigate 25 obstacles, with the course beginning on the Forthampton Estate and hugging the River Severn all the way down to Town Street Farm.
Warner says the course has been designed to “ask the riders and horses some difficult questions,” and added: “We started building the course in the first week of January, three or four of us, and it runs along similar lines to the course used in 2009. Fences 3 and 14 are not for the faint-hearted.”
The most recent renewal was in 2015 and won by Dominic Gwyn-Jones on board his own ‘Another Puzzle’. The pair are back for more this year, and Gwyn-Jones said:
“It’s a similar course to the original course, and the ground is lovely, holding up well. While I’m not planning on being up with the early pace, hopefully I can sit in the top 10 or 15 and see how I go from there.
“Fence 3 looks particularly tricky. It’s a large ditch and you’ll want to be travelling well. There is an alternative option [3a] but I think it’ll take you out of the race. My horse is obviously two years older, and there are lots of younger legs in the race, but we’ll be giving it our best.”
Also riding in the Golden Button this year are a clutch of former and current jockeys, among them Paul Carberry who won only his only previous Golden Button ride, Mr B. Powell’s ‘Blaze Ahead’ in 2009.
Carberry is just as excited about this year’s race:
“I can’t wait. It’s a new course to me, but I’ll walk it on the morning of the race and I’ve seen photos on social media. I’m on recent Point winner Lightning Tunes trained by Peter Maher [also riding in the race] and I’ve schooled him at home. You need a brave and sensible horse, with ability too, obviously! Point horses tend to be clever enough, but they can go through fences, so that’s another thing I’ll be aware of.
“The Golden Button is the closest thing to riding in a race for me, it’s the same buzz. It’ll be good craic with several other jockeys riding and my cousin J. D. Moore. I’ll try and sit around tenth and creep into it — that way I can keep a close eye on who’s in front of me!”
Other famous racing names taking part include Queen Mother Champion Chase-winning jockey Brian Harding, Ebor winner Gary Carroll, and Caulfield Cup-winning trainer Ciaron Maher.
The Challenge starts at 12 noon on Saturday 10 February and is open to all comers over the age of 16. The 8 prizes to be won are as follows:
Good luck to all competitors and connections!