The run-up to Peterborough for this, the 131st show, has been an interesting one. As in every year, more or less the same hounds exhibited at the Royal Foxhound Show have already been seen before. At the three previous major shows, their relative merits or weaknesses are spotted and speculation on the potential outcomes made.
The South of England at Ardingly saw the Grove and Rufford and the Heythrop tough it out, while Builth Wells was particularly well supported with four “Peterborough regulars” showing there. Harrogate gave a glimpse of what the north had to offer and thus the Tynedale’s successes were of no surprise.
While some elements of the day have changed over the years, the core has remained the same and is an opportunity for breeders of hounds all over England to showcase what they believe to be the best of their kennel. A lot of hunts prefer not to show for all sorts of reasons, though, a disappointing one being that they “only breed for work”.
That is what we all do, but the advantage of breeding for conformation as well means the hound lasts longer. It would be a touch unfortunate if one bred a low-scenting, intelligent and tenacious hound which couldn’t go quickly enough to keep itself warm and lasted only two seasons. A hound is an athlete and Mo Farah doesn’t have knock-knees and pigeon toes.
Few men or women have spent as much time trying to put this into practice as Martin Scott. It was just therefore that the VWH walked away with the doghound championship, thanks to their attractive Jacob.
Martin’s encyclopaedic knowledge of pedigrees has been a great deal of help to many young enthusiasts, like me.
Hounds from the last litters bred by Nigel Peel at the North Cotswold were victorious in both unentered championships, while the Heythrop deservedly retained the bitch championship.
A small peek behind the scenes is always revealing, and our own day was an example of that. One of our unentered bitches came off the lorry looking lame, while another hound caught his toe on the kennel gate. Quick thinking and forward planning on the part of our kennel-huntsman Nick Hopkins solved both problems, but neither augured well.
And so on to the increasingly popular afterparty, where commiseration and jubilation abound in equal measure. I had made a logistical error and was left holding the keys to the car.
Anxious not to spend another 18 months on a bicycle, courtesy of the judicial system, I was thus unable to enjoy the true generosity of Lycetts’ drinks party and various parties back at the lorries.
Should you disagree with a result, it’s advisable not to consult with a judge at this juncture, even if only in the supposedly friendly horn-blowing competition.
The enjoyment of the occasion for all involved is clear to see. Whether it is chewing your nails at the ringside while your home pack’s hound is run off against another or simply stocking up on sloe gin for the season ahead, Peterborough is the “mustn’t miss” day of the summer. But it is only one day.
Or so I told myself on the way home.
Ref Horse & Hound; 25 July 2019