Badminton Horse Trials prizes: all about the Butler Challenge Bowl

  • 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 is given to the most successful British rider at Badminton Horse Trials each year.

    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 – at that time Horse & Hound’s sister magazine – in 2005.

    “In the early 1950s, I was working for the British Horse Society 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.”

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    When there is a British winner at Badminton Horse Trials, the Butler Challenge Bowl goes to the same person as the overall winner’s trophy – for example, in 2019 Piggy French won the event on Vanir Kamira and was also awarded the Butler Challenge Bowl. The same happened in 2015 when William Fox-Pitt took first place at Badminton on the stallion Chilli Morning and in 2009 when Oliver Townend took top honours riding Flint Curtis.

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