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7 things we just couldn’t get enough of at the Festival of Hunting

Last week’s Festival of Hunting at Peterborough was a banquet of hounds, horses and all things hunting.

Here are seven things we loved about it…

1. The huge cheer that went up from the expectant audience when the champion foxhounds were announced. In the morning doghound championship it was the Grove and Rufford’s turn with Saxon; in the afternoon’s bitch championship Heythrop supporters erupted when Racket took the title.

2. The fact that the Grove and Rufford also won the senior inter-hunt relay competition – what a day for the hunt!

3. It takes real bravery to stand up in front of a large, slightly merry, hunting audience at the Lycetts-sponsored drinks party that closed the show and blow the hunting horn. This year’s winner of the amateur horn-blowing contest was young George Smith, who took home a hunting horn donated and engraved by The Hunting Shop.

4. Talking of horn-blowing, those who joined the Heythrop’s celebrations of a very successful day (the Gloucestershire pack won both two-couple classes and the bitch couple class, as well as the bitch championship) back at the lorry in the evening were treated to a proper exhibition. Martin Thornton, former huntsman of the Belvoir and the Zetland, consented to blow a range of calls, and did so utterly beautifully.

5. The shopping. There can’t be a better selection of hunting-related items – clothing, books, pictures, presents, anything you can think of – anywhere in the world.

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6. The “other” hounds. We see plenty of foxhounds, beagles and harriers, but how often do most of us get to see wise-looking bassets, magnificent bloodhounds – and, while not exactly hounds, did you see those heavenly Sealyham terriers?

7. The picnics. Not that hunting people are competitive, oh no, but the efforts made and laid out at lunchtime were spectacular and rivalled Car Park Number One during Royal Ascot — minus the butlers. Hunting people help themselves — generously.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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