Goss is Golden again

Yvonne Goss bat­tles it out on her fa­ther’s home-bred to a foot-per­fect win over Rowan Cope in the Golden But­ton Chal­lenge, which has re­turned to its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion on the banks of the River Sev­ern

Horse & Hound - - Hunting - By CATHER­INE AUSTEN

The Com­plete Util­i­ties Golden But­ton Chal­lenge

Tir­ley, Glos

“I’VE never seen rid­ing like it. Those were some of the finest per­for­mances I have ever seen on a horse,” said Led­bury joint­mas­ter and Com­plete Util­i­ties Golden But­ton Chal­lenger or­gan­iser David Red­vers.

He was re­fer­ring to the duel be­tween win­ner Yvonne Goss and run­ner-up Rowan Cope, who pro­vided mas­ter­classes at rid­ing at speed over nat­u­ral coun­try on Jaffa and Arthur. Both are part of the team chas­ing elite and, over three miles and

25 fences on gen­uinely good — and flat — ground, they an­gled these big hedges and ditches to an acute de­gree.

The three-stone dif­fer­ence in weight told, and 10-year-old Jaffa, home-bred by Yvonne’s fa­ther Aubrey El­lis, gal­loped over the line full of run­ning ahead of Arthur, who won the Mel­ton Hunt Club and the Har­bor­ough Hunt’s Club Rides last sea­son.

“He gave me such a bril­liant ride,” said Yvonne. “He’s a fron­trun­ner — he watches the flag come down and he’s gone — so Rowan and I made a plan be­fore­hand that I would lead if pos­si­ble. I sat on a loose rein and winged ev­ery fence.

“Rowan came to me at fence 18, and I was half a length be­hind him for a cou­ple of fences, and then Jaffa said, ‘I’m lead horse!’ and took off again.”

Yvonne won the first run­ning

of the Golden But­ton in 2006 on Perry’s Pearl, and says Jaffa “has the same men­tal­ity”.

“My son broke him in and was go­ing to point-to-point him, but he was too wired, and I started rid­ing him when he was six,” she re­vealed. “He’s lead horse for the team chas­ing team Fox Grant. com, he does in­ter-hunt re­lays and he was on the win­ning rid­ing club even­ter chal­lenge team at Blen­heim Palace In­ter­na­tional Horse Tri­als last year.

“The only cross-coun­try race he’s done was the Heythrop’s Dayles­ford Cup last Novem­ber,” added Yvonne. “I might have a crack at the Mel­ton on him, but he does ev­ery­thing for me and I never want to abuse his good na­ture.”

Rowan’s Arthur ac­tu­ally started his own hunt ride ca­reer in the Dayles­ford Cup a year ear­lier. Hav­ing car­ried all be­fore him that win­ter and spring, he fell in this year’s Mel­ton.

“I was very up­set af­ter that be­cause he is such a won­der­ful horse,” said Pytch­ley joint-mas­ter Rowan. “His joint just didn’t set­tle and even­tu­ally we found two thorns in his off-hind and one in his near-fore. He re­cu­per­ated well at home and I was to­tally happy with his fit­ness to­day.

“He gave me an in­cred­i­ble ride over a great course. Both horses were foot-per­fect. Seven fences from home I went past Yvonne and thought, ‘I’ll go on from here’. We winged the rails and hedge, but I could just see her in the cor­ner of my eye and jump­ing three out she came past me. Fair play to her — it was a bril­liant ride.”

‘I WANTED TO WIN!’

THE Mid-Sur­rey Farm­ers’ Drag’s Pe­ter Bull came third rid­ing River Finch, whom he de­scribed as a “failed point-to-pointer”.

“He’s a kind, hon­est horse with a bold jump but he’s very strong, and to­day he thought he was rac­ing again — I re­ally strug­gled to hold him,” said Pe­ter, whose first ride it was in the Golden But­ton. “The hardest part was get­ting to the start — I’d taken his mar­tin­gale off and I re­ally needed it. I had to be a bit care­ful, and you can’t be in this sort of race if you want to win, which I did! Still, I know what sort of horse you need now.”

Pe­ter, 57, won the prize for the first vet­eran home, and fourth­placed Ed Bai­ley was both best un­der-21 and best Led­bury, col­lect­ing the World Wide Web Tro­phy in mem­ory of the Ri­d­ley fam­ily’s great horse, who won and fin­ished se­cond in early run­nings of the Golden But­ton.

Ed, 20, who is a stu­dent at the Royal Agri­cul­tural Uni­ver­sity at Cirences­ter and who has rid­den seven point-to-point win­ners and three un­der Rules, rode sev­enyear-old Hand­some Sam.

“He ran in a hand­i­cap hur­dle at Le­ices­ter 10 days ago and made it clear he didn’t en­joy it much, so we thought we would run him in this,” said Ed. “We schooled him for the first time over a hedge last Sun­day, but he was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing to­day. I had a good po­si­tion early on — I got a lead off Paul Car­berry, who I thought was the best man to fol­low — and man­aged to avoid the pile-up that took him out at fence 16. I could have been third, I think, but I wanted to get a good line to the last fence.”

Ed then fin­ished third in the run­ning race held over the course, be­hind Rob Bow­ery and Ge­orge Daly.

O’BRIEN HEADS A LARGE IR­ISH SQUAD

EVEN­TER and team chaser Hec­tor Baker fin­ished fifth, and Louise O’Brien, who hunts with the Gal­tee Har­ri­ers in Ire­land, was sixth. Louise won the prizes for the best non-thor­ough­bred and the best over­seas vis­i­tor, while the West Nor­folk’s Char­lie Ward was best heavy­weight in eighth, be­hind sev­enth-placed Larry Brown.

There were sev­eral for­mer win­ners in the field. The great Ir­ish for­mer jump jockey Paul Car­berry — who was sport­ing a dra­matic black eye af­ter the lorry par­ti­tion banged into his face — took the 2009 Golden But­ton, but crashed out at fence 16 this time when taken out by fel­low Ir­ish­man JD Moore. Do­minic Gwyn-Jones and An­other Puz­zle, win­ners of the most re­cent re­newal in 2015, were also vic­tims of a pile-up there.

Trainer Ciaron Ma­her flew in from Aus­tralia es­pe­cially for the race and the ball the night be­fore, and was de­lighted to com­plete the course on Gill Carenza’s coloured hireling, Lieu­tenant.

“He’s called Lieu­tenant, but to­day he was more like a gen­eral — or a body­guard,” joked Ma­her.

Around half the 45 starters fin­ished the ride, which started on the Yorkes’ Forthamp­ton es­tate and fin­ished on the Warn­ers’ Town Street farm, cov­er­ing sev­eral Led­bury landown­ers’ ground in be­tween. There were no re­ported ac­ci­dents to horses or rid­ers, and a vast crowd of around 3,000 peo­ple watched the spec­ta­cle.

‘He watches the flag come down and he’s gone,’ says Yvonne Goss aboard Jaffa, who jump fence three ahead of Rowan Cope and Arthur

James Ri­d­ley (left) awards Ed Bai­ley the World Wide Web tro­phy

Third-placed Pe­ter Bull jumps chest­nut River Finch along­side Hec­tor Baker, who fin­ishes fifth

Louise O’Brien, who hunts with the Gal­tee Har­ri­ers, fin­ishes sixth

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