It’s been a summer with so many highlights. I enjoyed judging the Grove and Rufford, Kimblewick and Puckeridge puppy shows, and it was a pleasure to judge the doghounds at Honiton with Andrew Osborne.
Ardingly seems a long time ago now, my favourite show made all the more special as the showground sits in our hunt country. Thursday is the foxhound show, and the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent (OSB&WK) normally make up the numbers. This year, however, we won the local championship with Racecard, a hound we have had high hopes for all season.
Hunting is a team game and our kennel-huntsman Tim Staines shows hounds so well, having learnt from Sage Thomson over numerous seasons. He was ably supported by our countryman and kennel-man Ed Moss.
A rare success at Ardingly could not have prepared us for what was to come at Peterborough. I still can’t quite believe it.
In the very first class Racecard won the unentered restricted doghound prize; our first win at Peterborough since our amalgamation in 1999. He is a lovely, correct dog but we never imagined we would win. The crowd were so generous with their applause that it sent a tingle down the spine.
Racecard had a setback the night before the show and it was far from certain that he would even be able to show. Tim Staines and our former huntsman Mark Bycroft worked hard throughout the night to get him right.
Being on a high from our win from the morning meant the bitch classes in the afternoon were just to be enjoyed and we didn’t expect any more miracles. But when there were only four left in the first class and one of them was Racecard’s sister Ragtime, we dared to dream. Picking up the microphone the announcer said “first … (long pause) the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent’s Ragtime.” Cue more applause and whooping.
By the time Bedtime (mother of Racecard and Ragtime) and her sister Beehive appeared for the couples class we were “in a different place” and we watched on speechless as they won, also going on to be reserve in the open class. They were both walked by Liz Wallice and whelped by her, too.
A special mention for Blackbird, mother of Bedtime and Beehive and grandmother to Racecard and Ragtime — she is exceptional in her work.
It doesn’t get any better than four very knowledgeable judges placing your hounds first at Peterborough. Thank you to all our supporters who made the journey and thank you to all those other packs who seemed genuinely pleased for us.
What a position of strength we have to build upon, and what a legacy we have forged. In 20 seasons from now, some may ask, “Do you remember Peterborough 2019?” And I hope I am still around to say, “Yes I do, the OSB&WK won three classes.”
The next six months may bring Brexit, no Brexit, a general election, no general election. The only certainty is that our opponents will continue to use high-handed methods to try and stop us hunting within the law in the south-east.
Every community linked with our own must stand together and fight for the right to continue to do what we love and what we believe in. Those involved in shooting, fishing and farming must all see beyond any doubt that a minority of people are running the agenda and have all our communities firmly on their radar.
Ref Horse & Hound; 12 September 2019