Tony Blair may be responsible for the ban on hunting in England and Wales, but in a corner of south-west France he’s going to help rejuvenate the sport.
The Pau hunt is planning to re-form as a fox hunt, and one of its hounds is named Tony Blair. The Pau was originally formed as a foxhunt in 1840 by officers of the Duke of Wellington, but turned to draghunting at the end of the World War II. It has a country spanning 100x30km, with terrain including ditches, banks, drops and water obstacles.
Last week, the Pau hunt hit the headlines when the Puckeridge and the Essex and Suffolk hunts announced plans to deploy some of their hounds — and members — to the French pack’s kennels.
“Tony Blair [the hound in question] was named by the French; he’s six years old,” explains Jeffrey Quirk, a British hunting enthusiast who lives near the Pau’s headquarters.
“I was thinking of starting an English-style foxhunt in Sombrun, where I live, but the Pau is already established, so it made sense to think about a rejuvenation. We went to the major of Pau, who immediately supported our idea, and gave us €200,000 to refurbish the kennels.”
Support has been so great for the idea that two hunts may yet be established. But with cheap flights from the UK direct to Pau, will they stop at just two?