Team chasing takes on a fresh dimension this season with a new league system. The league aims to get more teams contesting open classes throughout the season, rather than qualifying and then not running until the championships.

As Chris Verey, organiser of the VWH event, explained: “You have to encourage hunts to run open events and, to make them viable, the teams have to support them.”

The start of the league is planned to coincide with the beginning of the spring season, possibly at the Badsworth. It will culminate at the Cotswold event in the autumn of 2007.

Team chasing kicks off on 3 September at the Berkeley with the first open qualifier for the national championships. National qualifier sponsor Coombe Farm Wines has increased the prize-money in the open qualifier at the Berkeley to £350 for first place, £225 for second, £150 for third, and £75 for fourth.

The South and West Wilts debuts its open qualifier this year (22 October), having hosted a successful inaugural event last autumn, as well as a hunt ride in the spring.

“We are putting in meatier hedges to upgrade the track to an open qualifier,” said organiser and co-host Catherine Cotton, who plans to stage three classes: a fun, novice and open section.

The Meynell and South Staffordshire, which runs near Ashbourne in Derbyshire on 1 October, has three new courses this year. The intermediate and open will run on old turf with natural fences and will be joined by a new fun class open to anyone aged 12 and over.

The York & Ainsty South event postponed in the spring, following a deluge that flooded the track, will go ahead on 10 September.

Fixtures list for 2006 autumn season

3 September: Berkeley – Bianca Wright (tel: 07917 274419)
10 September: York & Ainsty South – Mr R Warriner (tel: 01347 821496)
17 September: Grafton – Miss V Harvey (tel: 01280 860443)
24 September: Atherstone – Miss D Nobes (tel: 02476 307309)
1 October: Meynell & South Staffs – A Nelson, Esq (tel: 01283 575477)
8 October: Bicester with Whaddon Chase – Mrs S Paling (tel: 01296 713259)
15 October: Pytchley – Miss C Harper (tel: 07977 538386)
22 October: South and West Wilts – Mrs C Cotton (tel: 01747 830200)
29 October: Cotswold – Mrs Janet Trotter (tel: 01285 831577/07906 989619)
5 November: Essex & Suffolk – Mrs H Buckle (tel: 01449 740405)