The Middleton made sure Yorkshire hunting people had plenty to rejoice about on Foxhound day at Harrogate. This North Yorkshire pack won three out of four doghound classes and the doghound championship — plus two bitch classes and the Yorkshire bitch title.
The overall bitch accolade was taken south by the Cotswold pack, who achieved a good share of other placings.
In bright sunshine, Harrogate’s hound enclosure was thronged with keen hound enthusiasts and others visitors from the adjoining Great Yorkshire Show. Clearly, they felt the battle through the Great Yorkshire’s mammoth traffic jams had been well worthwhile.
Twenty-four packs competed, two more than last year, confirming the spirit of optimism among northern hunting people. The canvas-covered ring was packed with scarlet coats, except for Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s, whose hunt staff nowadays show, as well as hunt, in green tweed coats.
The show continued its unique system of Old English awards, thereby attracting the widest possible range of hunts. This year an Old English winner figured in a championship — Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s Primrose 01, was reserve bitch.
“She’s a six-season bitch who has worn extremely well and she’s absolutely true-blue Old English,” said the Wynnstay’s delighted joint-master and huntsman Richard Tyacke.
One of Britain’s most senior masters, Martin Letts — in office with the College Valley 42 years — judged the doghound section with Trevor Adams, joint-master and huntsman of the Duke of Buccleuch’s, who has cheered the hunting world by his robust response to Scotland’s version of a hunting ban.
Frank Houghton Brown bred the Middleton pack for 14 years until he moved to the Tynedale two years ago and can therefore take credit for much of their success at Harrogate. He judiciously used Beaufort sires, who bestowed notable substance with quality, and other lines have blended in well to produce an attractive type. The Middleton’s new master and huntsman this season, Tim Easby, was on duty in the Harrogate ring as steward and announcer.
Middleton hounds, deriving from Duke of Beaufort’s Whitbread 97 on the bottom line, won the unentered couple and singles class. Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s secured the Old English unentered prize with a handsome couple with lines going back to the old North Warwickshire kennel.
The Zetland captured the entered couple class with Forelock and Forger, quality modern hounds by the Duke of Beaufort’s Foxham 99, and the two couple class, which presented a marvellous spectacle in a packed ring, resulted in victory for the Meynell and South Staffs, with the Cotswold second and the Zetland third.
The Middleton’s handsome, well-balanced Builder 04 (pictured below), by Duke of Beaufort’s Burglar 99, won a strongly contested stallion hound class. He was victorious in the championship, where nine packs competed, with Cotswold Portsmouth 04, by Heythrop Postman 01, as reserve. Builder took the championship, too, with Zetland Forelock 05 as reserve.
Former Heythrop joint-master and huntsman Stephen Lambert, chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, judged the bitch hounds with James Andrews, former joint-master and huntsman of the South Pembrokeshire.
Although the Middleton took the unentered bitch couple class, the Cotswold won the unentered singles class with their Ballad, by Duke of Beaufort’s Bailey 03, and a granddaughter of Heythrop Forger 99. With such illustrious Gloucestershire parentage, she has the modern hound breeding virtues of substance with quality, and is an excellent mover. At the end of a long afternoon, the unentered Ballad emerged as bitch champion, beating all the entered hounds in the final line-up.
The Hurworth were welcome winners of the Old English unentered couple section with hounds of Brocklesby and York and Ainsty South breeding, with the Wynnstay reserve. Jonathon Seed’s nice Avon Vale types had been knocking on the door and thoroughly deserved their win in the couple class with Garland and Garnish 05, by Middleton Admiral 01.
Middleton’s strength in kennel was well exhibited in the huge two couple class, where they beat the Sinnington into second place. The Tynedale took third with a group notable for being from one litter, sired by Middleton Grumbler 03.
Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s Primrose 01 earned special attention as an Old English hound beating all the modern breeding to win the brood bitch class. She is by Belvoir Poacher 98, the Old English sire used successfully by the Heythrop to father their 2003 Peterborough champion bitch, Poplin 01.
Primrose is full of quality, perhaps a revelation to some who know little about Old English hounds, but after much deliberation she was placed below the Cotswold bitch in the championship after both exhibited their scope and movement.