This coming weekend sees the 53rd annual Golden Horseshoe ride, the UK’s oldest and most iconic competitive endurance ride. The first Golden Horseshoe, sponsored by the Telegraph, was organized in Exmoor in 1965 and the ride has run every year since bar 2016 when a change of ride organisers meant for a gap in the calendar. After some serious doubt over the future of the ride, new ride organisers, Jo and Andrew Chisolm of Watervale Endurace, were secured and the ride recommenced in 2017 from its long term home in the very heart of the Exmoor National Park, in Exford.
Since it’s inception, Horseshoe has increased in stature to become one of the ultimate ‘bucket-list’ endurance rides. The ride has been the preserve of the top echelon of competitive endurance riding, requiring a very fit horse and an experienced rider to cope with a ride often made more challenging by the weather. Whilst the longer-distance classes remain, additional classes have been added to broaden the ride’s appeal to non-endurance riders and grass-roots riders alike.
In 2019, Class 1, The Golden Horseshoe 2 day 160km, will see a close competition of just five riders, with most coming from the surrounding counties. All bar one have challenged this class before so it’s set to be an exciting two-days of competition. The competitive combination of Gillian Talbot with her own Anglo-Arab mare Sa’da Sekora are sure to be a serious challenger with a previous SILVER over the 160km at GHS. With a competition history spanning six years and a success rate of 26 out of 27 entered we are sure to see a good result from this combination. David Yeoman has also earned a SILVER over the 160km at GHS in the past but on a different horse. This year he rides his new French mare Eaunoire Cassie. With a competitive history over some tough European courses, her 4th place at Monpazier in August 2018 is sure to put this new combination in with a fighting chance. Another long standing combination, Gillian Mann with her 13yr gelding HS Parnasse, will be tackling the 160km at GHS for the second time. The duo attempted the class in 2015 but were unfortunately eliminated on pulse. They successfully completed the one-day 80km class in 2018 so we hope they have better luck this year over the longer distance. Yawl Hill Maverick ridden by his owner, Kirsty Wiscombe, will be the youngest horse in the class at 11yrs. This will be his first time taking on the 160km at GHS however the pair have completed a successful 160km 2 day class at Red Dragon in Wales which offers a similar ride experience. Kirsty has undergone extensive surgeries in the past few years so it is admirable that she has got herself to riding fitness ready to take on such a big class. The final competitor in the class is Sue Cox, riding her Belgian-bred 12yr old Arab, Eden El Nyhl. They have the furthest to travel being based in Cambridgeshire. The pair attempted the 160km at GHS in 2018 but unfortunately didn’t complete due to lameness but have had success over the 120km class in the past. Let’s hope they can challenge the longer distance this year.
The second class, Exmoor Stag, consists of a 120km ride again split over two days. This class also has just five competitors but once again consists of a few seasoned combinations set to make an exciting two-days of competition. The favourites for the class, Kathy Carr on her own Aberllwyd Femme Fatalle are certain to put in a competitive performance. With a previous SILVER over the 160km in 2018 and BRONZE on the 160km in 2015, as well as multiple successes over the longer distances at challenging rides, including a notable 14th place at the European test-run of 160km in Brussels in 2016, the 120km this year shouldn’t prove too much of a challenge. Karen Jones on-board her 13yr old mare, Treasure Moonbeam, have had success over the 160km in 2017 at GHS so should tackle the 120km this year with gusto. 15yr old HS Drift, ridden by Carri-Ann Dark, has produced very competitive speeds and notable results over the faster courses in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. It will be interesting to see how he takes on the Exmoor environment. Carri-Ann has completed this class before with another horse achieving a SILVER so her previous experience of the course should give her and Drift as good a chance as any. Sue Box aboard her own Kazeme El Mystral are also a new combination to this class. Though they are perhaps more experienced at hills and adverse weather conditions being located in Usk and predominately taking on West and South West competitions offering similar ground conditions. The final competitor is Amanda Tovey riding the 16yr old Diving Belle. The pair attempted the 80km here in 2017 but unfortunately retired on course so this will be their second attempt at a successful GHS. We wish them the best of luck over the new distance.
The remaining classes have a far wider spread of entries from around the country offering grass-roots riders the chance to participate and sample “Horseshoe country”. The Exmoor Hind, 2 day 80km, is still a challenge to be reckoned with. Twenty-two riders will tackle this class. Four people take on the one day 80km and sixty riders take on the one day 40km. The introduction of a non-competitive pleasure ride, which has given non-endurance riders and grass-roots endurance riders an opportunity to ride across the stunning Exmoor National Park, is full to capacity with fifty horses and riders taking part.
To follow the action head to the Golden Horseshoe website - www.goldenhorseshoe-ride.com.
Good luck to all competitors!