Our series leading up to Badminton Horse Trials honours continues with an intriguing story about the elephant tusk which turned out to be a silver bowl

The Butler Challenge Bowl at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (2-6 May 2018) is given to the most successful British rider.

This trophy has one of the most fascinating stories of all the prizes given at Badminton.

Jane Pontifex, a journalist who was H&H’s first eventing editor and who attended every Badminton horse trials from 1950 until her death in 2012, explained its origins in an interview with Eventing magazine in 2005.

“In the early 1950s, I was working for the BHS in London,” said Jane. “We did a lot of secretarial work for Badminton then. One day we got a cable from America saying there was an elephant tusk arriving for us and that it was to be donated to Badminton.

“But when it arrived it wasn’t an elephant tusk at all, but a jolly nice silver bowl. The man who donated it was called Butler and it was a bit of a mystery why he gave it. It’s been awarded ever since to the most successful British rider, but in the old days we always called it the elephant tusk.”

Ros Canter claimed the Butler Bowl last year, finishing fifth on Allstar B.

The last time the Butler Bowl went to the event’s winner was in 2015, when William Fox-Pitt won on Chilli Morning. William also took home the bowl in 2016, having finished fifth on Parklane Hawk.

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Horse & Hound’s full 2018 Badminton preview is published in our 26 April issue, including cross-country course walk with Mary King, cross-country course map, dressage test and judge’s analysis, full form guide for every horse and rider, plus what happens at the cocktail party.

Our 24-page bumper Badminton report will run in our 10 May issue, including full analysis of every phase and opinion from Peter Storr, Oliver Townend and Mark Phillips.