Dominic Gwyn-Jones emerged victorious from the Golden Button Challenge, which took place last weekend (14 February) for the first time since 2011.
Sixty-two horses and riders took on the hunt ride’s stiff test cross-country challenge over farmland near Tewkesbury. The course covered three miles and 25 obstacles, including hedges, ditches and rails, having moved from Forthampton to Longdon for this year.
The Ledbury’s Equine R-Oil and The Buying Solution Golden Button Challenge was a tough course, with muddy going, but 39 combinations completed.
Dominic (pictured below) rode 11-year-old thoroughbred Another Puzzle to his first hunt ride victory. He starting taking part in similar rides three years ago.
“You live for days like this,” he said. “This sort of race over natural country is the ultimate test.”
The first three from the last renewal of the race – Leicestershire’s Zoe Gibson, Dorset’s Catherine Atkinson and Wiltshire’s William Fox Grant – were all back in the line-up again.
Zoe Gibson and Tempo led from the start but fell at fence 11.
Catherine Atkinson and Ace, second in 2011, fell a couple of fences after Zoe. She was airlifted to hospital, but released later that evening with rib injuries.
William Fox Grant and Ferrari (pictured bottom) filled the runner-up spot.
“I had two stops at the same upright  where Zoe fell and was well behind, but he flew across the last few fields,” said William. “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 [in 2011], so I’ll be back to win it next time.”
Former Flat jockey Paul Scallan was third on the 13-year-old grey thoroughbred Los Galacticos.
Clerk of the course Tom Leeke, who finished 29th on Oliver, said: “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.”
Despite 39 combinations finishing, three horses died, two from heart attacks at the end of the race.
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
Video courtesy of Alice Pearson