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
The Complete Utilities Golden Button Challenge
“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