The Golden Button Challenge was once a regular New Year’s Eve fixture, but it is now held in early February.
This year’s cross-country ride — styled on an original steeplechase — is being held on Saturday 10 February 2018. Entries opened on Friday 17 November 2017, close on 1 February 2018 and cost £100.
The ride crosses a course of three miles with approximately 28 natural obstacles in the heart of Ledbury hunt country. The country is renowned for its large hedges and ditches so the race is not for the average rider and was hotly contested. The event is open to anyone over 16-years-old and riders compete for one of seven “Golden Buttons”, including those awarded for first past the post and first veteran (rider over 50).
The original Golden Button event took place in 2006 in between the villages of Forthampton and Tirley on the banks of the River Severn. Five runnings of the event proved to be very popular however, after a break for a few years, the new venue produced an equally challenging course.
Previous winners of the event include renowned team chaser Yvonne Goss riding Perry in 2006 and hunt ride specialist Zoe Gibson on Tempo in 2010. Paul Carberry flew over from Ireland especially to take part on New Year’s Eve in 2009. Partnering the Brendan Powell trained Mandingo Chief, the combination survived a refusal at fence 18, but made up ground in a thrilling finish to win by two lengths with renowned team chaser Zoe Gibson in second.
Zara Phillips and Top Gear’s Richard Hammond have been among those who have started the ride when it was held on New Year’s Eve.
In addition to the excitement of the Golden Button Challenge, there is also a fun run over the same course for those not wanting to take the fences on at speed, and the Golden Button Ball in the evening for those still standing. The ultimate Golden Button Challenge is to hunt with the Ledbury on the Friday before, take place in the Golden Button Ride and then attend the Ball on the evening after the race.
For further details see www.golden-button.co.uk