Martin Scott recalls a day following the Duke of Beaufort’s hounds on his trusty mount Harry
Having hunted for just over 55 years – I started when I wasn’t quite two years old – I’ve enjoyed many good hunts, but one special one was earlier this year. I think it was more memorable because we only started hunting again last December because of the enforced break due to foot-and-mouth. This ride was a reminder of what we had missed and was all the more enjoyable as Harry and I were grateful to be back doing what we love most.
It was a wet and windy 23 January and we met at Shirehill, a popular Beaufort Wednesday venue just south of Tormarton. At second horses, I changed on to Harry and we then went over the motorway to Warren Gorse.
Much to the delight of farmer David Hall, the bitches found and ran in the strong wind towards Tormarton and crossed Oakes Lane almost to Newhouse Farm and back to Warren Gorse. From there, the ride headed across Richard Smith’s land to the railway station at Badminton.
The bitches flew across the set aside, and from the motorway bridge it was time to hold on to our hats as the pack flew across the grass below Ivyleaze [the former home of Ginny Holgate] and over the south section of Badminton’s Centre Walk to pass between Alderton Grove and the railway line.
When hounds really fly, I get lit up and have been known to leave the ground. Luckily, Ian Farquhar [the joint-master] had broken the white tape on the first fence, so we were able to pop over that, and Harry and I enjoyed the fences on Centre Walk.
There was a new tiger trap below Alderton Grove and we survived a good hedge with a ditch on the far side of Tim Smith’s, where someone came down alongside me. Our blood was up and Harry was in his element. I felt privileged to be riding this horse.
Hounds ran on past Crannhill, running parallel to the railway, to cross the Alderton to Grittleton road and end up on the railway embankment close toFosse Cross, where they had to be stopped.
There was by now a considerably depleted but happy field. Although it was slow to start, as hounds had to persevere in the strong wind, when they turned from Acton Turville the bitches flew, giving the mounted field the best ride of the season. The hunt had been perfect.
Harry and I hacked back happily to his home at the Godwins’ yard. We both arrived with smiles on our faces.
I don’t go out to astonish people. I hunt to watch and follow hounds. We get lit up about four times a year and when hounds really fly, we have fun trying to keep up with them.
Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (19/26 December) where Polly Gundry talks about her ‘ride of a lifetime’ in this year’s Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree.
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