Our hunting editor picks her dream days — from a Friday with the Taunton Vale flying over hedges to a Cottesmore Tuesday with a screaming scent
1. The College Valley/North Northumberland, on the Cheviot, on a little thoroughbred hireling of Dickie Jeffreys’ called Emma Jones. She might not have made it as a point-to-pointer, but she is the perfect conveyance in this very steep, wild hill country. The hounds are magic – watching them makes every hunting person’s heart sing.
2. The Dummer Beagles at Rockliffe, near Stow-on-the-Wold. I’m not sure there is a better pack of hounds anywhere than these bitches. They are very fast with a tremendous, high cry, and at any given point during a hunt you could throw a handkerchief over the whole pack.
3. A morning’s autumn hunting at Ditchley with the Heythrop on Rupert – a little grey ex-racehorse belonging to Claire Hardwick. He absolutely “gets” hunting, loves hounds, will stand like a rock on his own yet his origins as a Flat horse mean he’s got a serious fifth gear. And autumn hunting suits him perfectly as after three hours, he feels his haynet is calling…
4. The Scarteen, from Elton or Hospital. Huge double-bank country with a unique pack of hounds. In my dreams, I’d be lent master Chris Ryan’s best horse…
5. A Friday with the Taunton Vale on Bridget Burbidge’s brilliant grey horse, Jack. Hedges, hedges and more hedges, and a fantastically friendly bunch of people.
6. The Glyn Celyn Beagles on the Eppynt on my 14.1hh pony, Spur, more years ago than I care to mention. Pretty much the best field sport you can imagine – a great pack of hounds on open hill, and only my brother and I mounted and therefore able to stay with them.
7. A Belvoir Thursday in Lincolnshire. Miles and miles of flat, open country with nothing to stop these marvellous hounds. I’d be on a really good ditch jumper with loads of stamina
8. A Cottesmore Tuesday, with a screaming scent, on the classy horse joint-master Nick Leeming lent me last week…
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9. A Pytchley day with my good friend Will Spencer at the helm, doing our best to keep up with huntsman Dan Cherriman and his hounds. I’d borrow Carrot, the excellent hedge jumper Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray master Vicki Wilkins lent me recently for a day with them, and take him for a day out in the Shires.
10. A Heythrop Saturday from Swell Wold on my own horse, Molly. She’s coming back from injury and I miss hunting her very much. She loves the fantastic going of this wonderful part of the Heythrop country, which is absolutely designed and laid out for hunting. I’d stick as close to field master Nick Seal as I could, with my friends around me, and I’d hack home with hounds at the end of the day knowing I was in the cream of the country on the best horse I’ll ever have.